Japan's health experts are warning of an explosive increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.
The daily tally topped 100,000 on Friday for the first time since early February. That's more than double the number recorded a week ago. About one-fifth of the cases reported on Friday were in Tokyo.
Some hospitals are busy responding to the spike. Fifty patients with a fever visited a clinic near Tokyo on Friday morning, and almost half of them tested positive for the virus.
A doctor at the clinic said, "Things have changed drastically in the last 2 weeks. We are very concerned about the situation."
Experts blame the surge on the Omicron subvariant BA.5, which is believed to be highly infectious.
They say it's not clear whether the subvariant is more prone to triggering severe symptoms.
Tateda Kazuhiro, a professor from Toho University said, "An explosive increase in infections would lead to a rise in the number of serious cases. We need to monitor the situation very carefully."
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said earlier in the day that he does not intend to introduce new restrictions right now.
Kishida held a meeting of the coronavirus taskforce ahead of the national long weekend. They discussed ways to get people tested before heading home to visit elderly relatives.
Kishida says he'll keep Japan on high alert and put the focus on boosting the medical system's ability to handle spiking case counts.
The government will continue offering fourth vaccine doses for some segments of the population.
Kishida urged people to take advantage of opportunities to get tested for free. He said, "There are already about 13,000 coronavirus free testing centers across the country. I will set up additional centers at more than 100 locations, including major train stations and airports, so that people can take tests before returning to their hometowns for a vacation."
When the Omicron variant first tore through Japan, the government responded by closing borders.
The rules have been loosened in recent months. And as of June, small numbers of foreign tourists are allowed to visit on guided tours, and there are currently no plans to change this.