Japan recorded a surge in new coronavirus cases this week, with infections reaching four-month highs in the major metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Osaka as the Omicron variant spreads.
New cases totalled 2,198 in the capital of Tokyo on 12 January, while the western prefecture of Osaka recorded 1,711, nearly tripling from the day before. Those marked the highest levels since early September.
COVID-19 cases across Japan were expected to exceed 10,000 on 12 January, according to a tally by broadcaster TBS. That tally would be the highest number of infections in Japan in a single day since 9 September
“We must brace for the rapid spread of infections to continue,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters, noting that the Omicron variant had been discovered in most regions of the country.
On Sunday, Japan stepped up coronavirus restrictions in three regions that host U.S. military facilities, after it appeared that Omicron outbreaks at the bases spilled into the surrounding communities.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that Japan will maintain strict border restrictions through February to slow the spread of Omicron.
Separately, Austria’s daily new coronavirus infections have risen to a new record of 18,427, newspaper Kronen Zeitung reported, as cases have been surging because of the spread of the extremely contagious Omicron variant.
Hungary’s daily tally of new COVID-19 cases also jumped to 7,883 on 12 January from 5,270 reported a week earlier, but the number of patients treated in hospital declined over the week, the government said.
The government said 29% of the new infections were caused by the new Omicron variant, but some private labs have reported much higher figures.
In Hungary, a country of 10 million, 40,083 people have died of COVID-19. There are 2,758 people coronavirus patients in hospital now, including 257 on ventilators.