Study: Omicron cases double in less than 2 days

NHK -- Jan 08
Researchers in Japan estimate that numbers of coronavirus infections in Okinawa, Tokyo and Osaka prefectures are doubling in less than two days amid the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

A group at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported the estimate to a health ministry expert panel on Thursday.

The researchers studied the time required for cumulative numbers of infections to double, based on data available as of Wednesday.

They estimated that it took just 1.3 days for case counts to double in Okinawa during a recent seven-day period. The pace in Osaka was 1.7 days, and in Tokyo, 1.9 days.

The group attributes the fast pace in Okinawa to Omicron's replacing other coronavirus strains there earlier.

The researchers say reports from Britain and elsewhere also suggest that caseloads are doubling at a faster pace under Omicron compared to Delta.

The head of the institute's Infectious Diseases Surveillance Center, Suzuki Motoi, says the surge in Okinawa is drawing attention, but that Tokyo and Osaka will very likely face similar surges in the coming week.

Suzuki says Omicron is said to pose a lower risk of serious illness than Delta, but that rapid growth in infections would overwhelm medical services and hugely impact social activity. He says steps must be taken swiftly to prevent spreading of the variant.