Coronavirus infections in Japan showing a rebound

The latest figures compiled by NHK are indicating a rebound in coronavirus infections across Japan.

The nationwide seven-day average of new cases until Thursday is up 46 percent from a week ago, after having posted slight increases or a decline for three weeks.

The average daily case count stood at around 176,000 on Thursday, up 55,000 from the previous week. The average rose in all prefectures.

The pace of increase also rose in every prefecture. The tally more than doubled in Mie, and increased 87 percent in Hyogo and 85 percent in Shizuoka.

Shizuoka saw its daily average number of cases hit a record high.

Miyazaki has the highest ratio for its population, with 1914.12 cases per 100,000 people. Its daily average is 2,925.

In Tokyo, the average seven-day case count rose 4 percent in the week until December 29. It fell to 69 percent of the previous week's figure in the week until January 5, but posted a 22-percent rise through Thursday.

The health ministry said it confirmed 144,077 new cases and 480 deaths across the country on Friday.

Toho University Professor Tateda Kazuhiro warns that there must be many infected people with only mild or no symptoms who have not reported their illnesses to authorities. Tateda, a member of the government's coronavirus advisory panel, says the actual case count could be double the reported figures.

The nationwide daily death toll reached a record 489 on Thursday, and has remained at high levels since late December.

Tateda also says cluster infections at homes for the elderly and care facilities for people with disabilities are leading to the deaths of vulnerable people.

He suggests that such facilities may not have full-time doctors, and medical services may be limited.

He says infected people have developed pneumonia and died during previous phases of the outbreak, but many of the recent deaths involve people whose underlying health conditions became unstable after becoming infected with COVID-19.

Tateda stressed the need to analyze why the death toll is surging in the current eighth wave of the outbreak.