Japan on high alert as omicron subvariant drives record COVID-19 surge

japan omicron subvariant record covid 19 surge

Japan’s government has urged people to exercise the “highest level of vigilance” after the country reported a record number of COVID-19 cases in a new wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 omicron subvariant.

Japanese health authorities reported that there had been more than 186,000 cases nationwide in the previous 24 hours, while the capital city, Tokyo, easily beat its existing daily record with over 31,000 cases. Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Osaka were among 30 of the country’s 47 prefectures to report record highs this week.

A public broadcaster on NHK said people living in the southern prefecture of Okinawa, which saw a record 5,250 new cases, would be asked to avoid non-essential outings from Friday until the middle of August.

Additionally, groups of up to four diners would be permitted to eat at restaurants for a maximum of only two hours, while older people and those with underlying health conditions would be advised to meet only family members with whom they lived.

The Japanese central government said there were no immediate plans to return to restrictions seen during the previous waves of the virus. Still, it urged people to exercise caution amid fears the surges in the future could increase pressure on health services.