Japan records more than 100,000 new cases on Friday

Japanese health experts are warning of an explosive rise in the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.

The daily tally topped 100,000 on Friday for the first time since early February. This is more than double the number recorded a week ago. About a fifth of the cases reported on Friday were in Tokyo.

Some hospitals are busy responding to the spike. Fifty patients with fever checked into a clinic near Tokyo on Friday morning, and nearly half of them tested positive for the virus.

A doctor at the clinic said: “Things have changed drastically over the past 2 weeks. We are very concerned about the situation.

Experts attribute this outbreak to the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, which is believed to be highly contagious.
They say it’s unclear whether the subvariant is more likely to trigger severe symptoms.

Tateda Kazuhiro, a professor at Toho University, said: “An explosive increase in infections would lead to an increase in the number of severe cases. We need to monitor the situation very closely.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said earlier today that he had no plans to introduce any new restrictions at this time.

Kishida held a coronavirus task force meeting ahead of the national long weekend. They discussed ways to get people tested before returning home to visit elderly relatives.

Kishida said he would keep Japan on high alert and focus on building the capacity of the medical system to handle the surge in cases.

The government will continue to offer a fourth dose of vaccine to certain segments of the population.

Kishida urged people to take advantage of opportunities to get tested for free. He said: “There are already around 13,000 coronavirus-free testing centers across the country. I will be setting up additional centers in over 100 locations, including major train stations and airports, so people can get tested before to return to their hometown for a vacation.

When the Omicron variant first crossed into Japan, the government responded by closing the borders.
The rules have been relaxed in recent months. And since June, a small number of foreign tourists have been allowed to participate in guided tours, and there are currently no plans to change this.