Over 350,000 infected people recuperating at home

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Public health center employees speak with infected people recuperating at home over the phone in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Jan 11.

The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus nationwide who were recuperating at home exceeded 350,000 on Friday, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun tally.

The figure was about 100,000 in the middle of the previous week, but has surged over the past week or so, and is already well above the peak number of 131,214 logged during the fifth wave of infection last summer. In the current sixth wave, while the number of infected people has been increasing rapidly, many of those have shown mild or no symptoms. Given that, the number of such people recuperating at home instead of being hospitalized has grown rapidly.

According to the tally of data that prefectural governments released by 9 p.m. on Friday, a total of 350,647 people were recuperating at home after contracting the virus. This is a significant increase from the previous week’s figure of 103,579 compiled as of Jan. 19 by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The figure of those recuperating at home is twice as high as the approximately 178,000 that the central government projected for the sixth wave based on reports from prefectures last year. By prefecture, Tokyo topped the list with 61,026 people as of Friday.

The percentage of infected people recuperating at home has now risen to 76% from 65% in the fifth wave.

This is attributable to the characteristics of the currently dominant omicron variant, which is highly infectious but has not caused so many people to become seriously ill. According to the health ministry, the number of COVID-19 patients who developed serious symptoms was 697 as of Friday, significantly lower than the 2,092 at the peak of the fifth wave on Sept. 1 last year.