Japanese authorities confirmed a nationwide tally of more than 17,000 new cases of coronavirus infection on Tuesday. The number of seriously ill patients was at a record high for the 19th straight day.
The number of patients using a ventilator or being treated in an intensive care unit stood at 2,110, up 35 from Monday.
At a Tuesday news conference, health minister Tamura Norihisa said, "When infections surge, the corresponding spike in serious cases comes later. We don't expect the number to fall anytime soon."
Hospitals are stretched to the limit. Many people with mild symptoms have no choice but to cope at home. But some aren't getting the care they need when their condition worsens.
A man in his 20s who tested positive on August 16 was found dead at home just two days later. The cause is presumed to be pneumonia. A doctor had earlier determined that he didn't require hospitalization.
Local governments are setting up facilities where oxygen can be administered to patients waiting to be hospitalized.
Meanwhile, researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University say the new N501S mutation of the Delta variant has been found in Japan for the first time. Only eight cases have been reported elsewhere.
Officials in Tokyo confirmed nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The figure was down more than 1,300 from the week before. It's also the ninth straight day of week-on-week decline.