Cluster COVID infections remain at high levels in elderly care homes

A report by Japan's health ministry shows cluster and other group infections of the coronavirus at elderly care homes remain around the levels recorded amid the seventh wave of the infection in the country during summer last year.

The ministry and many local governments recognize cluster infections based on when five or more people are infected at the same facility and their contact history is clear.

The ministry said on Wednesday that the number of cluster infections recognized by municipalities and other cases involving at least two people at nursing homes for the elderly came to 722 in Japan over the six days through Monday.

That is down by more than 200 from the record-high 954 cases marked in the seven days through December 25. During the nine days through January 3, 861 cases were confirmed.

There were 850 cases in the seven days in August last year, the peak of the previous wave of infections in Japan.

Meanwhile, the ministry said it confirmed 198,873 new cases of the coronavirus and 381 deaths in the country on Wednesday. The number of seriously ill patients who are on ventilators or ECMO heart-lung machines stands at 665, up nine from Tuesday.

The ministry also reported 16,772 cases in Tokyo on Wednesday. The daily tally is up 6,215 from a week earlier. Officials confirmed 31 deaths in the capital.