Japan has warned COVID-19 infections are surging at an unprecedented rate, with the country reporting a record daily tally of over 14-thousand as of Wednesday evening.
Tokyo, where the Olympics are underway, also reported on Wednesday an all-time high of over 41-hundred new cases, nearly 1-thousand more than the previous week.
"Since it is the highest ever (number of COVID-19 cases) in Tokyo, we have been responding with a sense of caution for the past few days. In any case, it means that we must take proper measures to protect the lives and health of the people with the highest priority."
Japan's Health Minister Norihisa Tamura attributed the surge to the Delta variant, while defending the government's new policy of asking patients with milder symptoms to isolate at home instead of going to the hospital.
Addressing the Diet on Wednesday, he said the measure is part of the government's pre-emptive response, as the pandemic has entered a new phase.
The policy has been met with criticism with even the ruling Liberal Democratic Party pressing for its withdrawal.
Responding to the crisis, Japan is seeking to place eight prefectures, including Fukushima, Aichi, and Kumamoto, under a quasi-state of emergency from Sunday until the end of the month.
The Japanese government, which has been criticized for hosting the Olympics despite local fears over COVID-19, says there's no evidence to link the new surge to the Games.
However, the Japanese government's top medical adviser warns the situation could worsen after the Games end, with Tokyo's daily tally possibly surpassing ten-thousand.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.