Japan reported 233,100 daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a new record for the second consecutive day, raising concerns about pressures on the medical system as the number of available designated hospital beds continues to decline.
Tokyo reported a record 40,406 infections, crossing 40,000 for the first time as the country battles the seventh wave of the coronavirus pandemic, powered by the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant.
People walk in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo on July 28, 2022. (TBEN)
The record of infections in many areas came after the World Health Organization said Japan had reported the world’s highest number of new cases in the week to Sunday with more than 969,000.
Tokyo’s new record, which surpassed the previous record of 34,995 reported Friday, is expected to include about 5,000 to 6,000 cases as of Wednesday that failed to register due to a system error.
With the most infections among people in their 20s, the capital’s seven-day moving average of new cases was 31,318.1 per day, up 66.4 percent from the previous week.
On Wednesday, the occupancy rate for designated hospital beds was more than 50 percent in 19 prefectures, a cabinet secretariat count showed, more than double from a week earlier.
Okinawa topped the list with 88 percent bed occupancy, followed by Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures with 74 percent.
Saitama and Chiba prefectures bordering the capital, as well as Hokkaido and Aichi, were among 18 other areas that also reported record infections on Thursday.
The daily death toll exceeded 100 for the third day in a row with 114 deaths. The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients rose by 35 from a day earlier to 346, the health ministry said.
At a summer meeting of the National Governors’ Association on Thursday, held in person for the first time in three years, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori emphasized the importance of “measures to contain the spread of the virus while enhancing socio-economic activities.” to balance”.
Nagasaki Governor Kengo Oishi also said there was little need to curb activities such as tourism, as “the risk is not significantly high.”
But the rapid spread of the virus has already started disrupting some business operations, with a number of public transport services canceled due to a lack of available staff.
The central government said Thursday it had secured about 12 million COVID-19 antigen self-test kits for people with mild symptoms in a bid to ease pressure on clinics.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Wednesday that the pandemic is far from over.
According to the UN agency, there were more than 6.6 million new cases worldwide in the week to Sunday, about 300,000 more than the week before.
After Japan, the United States reported the highest number of new infections with about 860,000, while Germany registered about 570,000.
The number of newly reported deaths was over 12,600, with the United States recording the highest number at about 2,600, followed by Brazil at about 1,400. Japan confirmed 272 dead.
With the death toll rising in recent weeks and hospitalizations rising in some countries, it is essential to vaccinate health professionals and the elderly, Tedros said.