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Japan's total coronavirus infection clusters top 10,000: health ministry

Tall buildings are seen in the center of Tokyo, with the Imperial Palace in the center background, in this file image taken Aug. 9, 2020, from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Japan has now recorded a cumulative 10,088 instances of coronavirus infection clusters as of Aug. 16, surpassing the 10,000 mark for the first time, according to health ministry figures released on Aug. 18.

    Figures released by Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare indicate that the highly infectious coronavirus delta variant has replaced other strains and accelerated the spread of COVID-19, with particularly fast transmission seen at workplaces and educational facilities.

    The health ministry defines a cluster as occurring when infections of two or more people in a single facility emerge, and releases its latest tallies on a weekly basis. The figure of 10,088 clusters current to Aug. 16 was 353 above the previous week's mark.

    Altogether 2,708 of the clusters occurred in welfare facilities caring for elderly people, individuals with impairments and others. The figure was up by 98 compared to the week prior. Another 2,171 clusters broke out in businesses and related locations -- up 118 from the previous week -- while 1,780 were at eateries, 46 above the previous week's level, and 1,413 were in schools or other education facilities -- up 53 from the previous week.

    Locations where clusters have emerged are not limited to eateries that the government has devoted so much of its coronavirus prevention efforts to so far, with workplaces and schools playing host to rapid cluster increases. The government says it has been confirming cases at locations that up until now have made relatively little impact on the totals, including department stores, cram schools and beauty salons.

    The government is calling for caution, saying, "Infection prevention measures are essential, including keeping distance from people as much as possible, and ensuring greater observance of ventilation measures that are easily forgotten in air-conditioned spaces."

    (Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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