TOKYO - Japan's daily coronavirus cases hit a record high of 209,694 on Wednesday, with health experts urging "maximum vigilance" as the country continues to struggle with its seventh wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant.
Despite the resurgence of the virus, the country has not imposed restrictions on people's movement as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is seeking to maintain a balance of socioeconomic activities and measures to prevent infections from spreading further.
The previous record was set last week at about 201,000, according to a tally based on local government reports.
A total of 129 deaths were also reported, topping 100 for the second consecutive day.
The number of patients with severe symptoms totaled 311, up 40 from Tuesday, according to the health ministry. The figure represents a sharp increase from less than 40 observed a month earlier.
"Infections have continued to spread rapidly," according to an advisory panel of experts for the ministry, which assessed the current situation at a meeting. "We must closely watch (the situation) with maximum vigilance, including impact on the medical system."
More than half of the nation's 47 prefectures logged record numbers of cases Wednesday, including Hokkaido and Kyoto.
Tokyo reported an additional 29,036 COVID-19 cases. Osaka Prefecture reported 21,860 new infections, raising its alert to the highest of three levels for the first time in about three months and asking elderly people to refrain from nonessential outings as they are at increased risk of developing severe symptoms.