Photo/Illutration Medical staff treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms at Tokyo Medical and Dental University's Medical Hospital in July. The image is partly modified. (Provided by Tokyo Medical and Dental University)

The health ministry said 196 deaths from COVID-19 were registered during the week until Dec. 3, exceeding the monthly tally of 194 for all of October.

It confirmed 383 deaths as related to COVID-19 in November. On Dec. 1, 40 deaths were confirmed, a record figure for a single day.

Elderly people are considered most at risk of developing severe symptoms, which is mirrored in the rising toll of deaths.

On Dec. 3, the ministry expert panel on the health crisis for the first time since the pandemic mentioned rising fatalities in its evaluation report.

“In July and August, the virus was spread mostly among young people,” noted Takaji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who heads the panel.

He said the reason for the rise in fatalities is “mainly because the infection has spread among elderly people, too, this time.”