Japan sees 176,554 new COVID cases, ends 4-day streak of record highs

Japan’s daily COVID-19 cases stood at 176,554 on Sunday, according to a Kyodo News tally, ending a four-day streak of record highs amid a seventh wave of infections linked to the spread of the BA.5 Omicron subvariant.

The figure, which marks the highest number of cases recorded for a Sunday, was down from a record 200,975 logged a day earlier.

Tokyo, which made up 28,112 of the new cases, also saw numbers falling below the 30,000 mark for the first time in four days. The capital reached a new all-time high of 34,995 on Friday.

“We expect the number of new infections to continue to rise. The government must take the utmost precaution when dealing with this situation,” Daishiro Yamagiwa, minister in charge of Japan’s COVID-19 response, said on an NHK television program Sunday.

With the majority of infections among those in their 20s, Tokyo’s seven-day rolling average of new cases stood at 24,542.6 per day, up 60.5 percent from the previous week.

The metropolitan government has reported over 10,000 new cases every day since July 12.

A total of 3,504 people in Tokyo are hospitalized for COVID-19, representing a bed-occupancy rate of 47.3 percent. A rate above 50 percent would mean the capital’s bed provisions are under pressure.

Elsewhere, Osaka Prefecture logged 17,445 new infections, while Kyoto and Ibaraki prefectures saw a record number of daily cases.

According to the health ministry, the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients increased by 30 from a day earlier to 233 nationwide. A total of 25 deaths were reported.

Despite large swathes of the country reporting unprecedented numbers as Japan enters the summer vacation season, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government has reiterated it has no plans to impose movement restrictions.