COVID-related deaths in Japan surge, top 10,000 in just over a month

The number of people in Japan who died after being infected with the coronavirus has topped 10,000 in just over a month amid the country's eighth wave.

The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in January 2020 was 60,411 as of Tuesday. This means roughly one-sixth of these deaths occurred from December 1 through January 10.

Japan's health ministry says the reported number of people who have died so far in January after getting COVID-19 was 3,145, clearly outpacing the rate in the past few months. The death toll was 1,864 in October, 2,985 in November and 7,622 in December.

Elderly people made up the vast majority of these deaths.

Among the 5,825 people who died between December 7 and January 3 whose ages and sexes were identified, 17.1 percent were in their 70s, 41.2 percent were in their 80s and 33.9 percent were in their 90s.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases says data on 1,168 deaths showed 696 or around 60 percent of them were directly caused by the coronavirus. It says 34 were attributed to heart failure, 31 to cancer, 29 each to old age and pneumonia and 28 to aspiration pneumonia.

An expert panel of the health ministry is warning that the spread of COVID infections at elderly facilities could further push up the death toll among senior citizens.