Japan’s daily coronavirus infection cases top 90,000 for 1st time in 5 months

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka is illuminated in yellow on Tuesday after the Osaka prefectural government issued a yellow alert based on its independent criteria to call for caution against the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Daily cases of coronavirus infection exceeded 90,000 nationwide for the first time in about five months on Wednesday, and 13 prefectures set record highs.

A total of 94,493 new cases were confirmed across the nation, including airport quarantines, approximately double the figure from the same day last week. The nationwide daily tally last topped 90,000 on Feb. 17.

Tokyo logged 16,878 new cases on Wednesday, double the figure from the same day last week. By age group, the number was highest among those in their 20s at 3,589, accounting for more than 20% of the total. Those in their 40s and under made up for slightly less than 80%, indicating the spread of infections has been conspicuous among younger age groups.

In Osaka Prefecture, the daily number of new cases totaled 10,452 on Wednesday, exceeding 10,000 for the first time since Feb. 26.

Aomori, Iwate, Ishikawa, Shizuoka, Mie, Wakayama, Kochi, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures set record highs on the same day.

The nationwide number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients increased by seven to 90 from the previous day. That figure is 6% of 1,507, which was the peak figure in the sixth wave of infection and was logged on Feb. 26.The number of deaths reported Wednesday was 31.

On Thursday morning, the government’s subcommittee on COVID-19 measures held a meeting to discuss emergency proposals in preparation for a seventh wave of infections. The panel recommended that the government focus on five measures, including the expansion of testing, effective ventilation and increased vaccinations, because the public is unlikely to be receptive to activity restrictions.

An advisory body to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Wednesday also expressed concern about the swift increase in infections nationwide. The body cited the highly infection BA.5 omicron subvariant as a factor attributable to the rapid rise.

“The number of new infection cases could exceed 100,000 per day,” said Takaji Wakita, director general at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. This number is at the same level as in the sixth wave’s peak.

The number of cases has risen among all age groups, but the increase has been greater particularly among those in their 50s and younger. More people have been infected with the virus at schools or home. In Tokyo, a growing number of infections have also occurred in restaurants and workplaces.

The hospital bed occupancy rate is also increasing.

However, Wakita said: “At this moment, no one has expressed the need to restrict activities. We’re at the stage of carefully monitoring hospital bed occupancies.”