Coronavirus cases may hit peak

Courtesy of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases
The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus is seen in an electron micrograph.

Tokyo (Jiji Press) — The pace of increase in new coronavirus cases in Japan has shown signs of slowing, suggesting the possibility of hitting a peak any time soon, a government advisory panel said Tuesday.

The number of new cases in the week through Monday rose 1.18-fold from the previous week, a milder weekly increase.

However, infection situations vary among regions. New cases fell week on week in Yamaguchi and Tokushima prefectures while surging especially in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region.

At a press conference, panel head Takaji Wakita, also chief of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, warned that new cases may plateau or rise again after stopping increasing because people will become busier toward the end of the year.

“Japan may face a simultaneous spread of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza when school activities resume after the year-end and New Year holidays,” he added.

At the day’s panel meeting, the NIID presented its new projections that the XBB and BQ.1 omicron variants would account for 5% and 13%, respectively, of the total new cases to be confirmed in the week from Monday.