Coronavirus cases in Japan top 1.5 million

The number of people in Japan found to be infected with the coronavirus surpassed 1.5 million on Wednesday.

The first domestic case of COVID-19 was confirmed on January 16, 2020. A man in his 30s from Kanagawa Prefecture who had traveled to Wuhan, China, tested positive after developing symptoms of pneumonia.

The number of cases reached 100,000 on October 30 after two waves of infections.

The third wave hit over the year-end and New Year holidays, mainly in the Greater Tokyo area.

The Alpha variant, first detected in Britain, began spreading in March and triggered the fourth wave of infections centered in the Kansai region. Domestic cases hit 500,000 on April 9.

The fifth wave, involving the highly transmissible Delta variant, pushed cases up to one million on August 6. The total topped 1.5 million on Wednesday.

It took about 15 months for the total number of infections to top 500,000. But it took less than four months for the figure to reach one million, and just 26 days for it to jump to 1.5 million.

Nationwide daily counts have been hovering around 20,000, and the number of seriously ill patients remains at record high levels. The number of patients staying at home also reached a record high of just over 118,000 on August 25.

Healthcare systems in the Greater Tokyo area and elsewhere are overwhelmed, and more people are dying.

Johns Hopkins University in the United States says that as of September 1, coronavirus cases totaled 39.2 million in the US, 32.77 million in India, 20.78 million in Brazil, 6.83 million in France, and 6.82 million each in Britain and Russia.

There are 27 countries other than Japan where infections have topped 1.5 million. More and more people are testing positive, even in countries with high vaccination rates, as the Delta variant spreads globally.