Photo/Illutration Doctors and nurses provide medical care to a patient infected with COVID-19 and suffering from serious symptoms. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The number of COVID-19-related deaths in Japan so far in August has already surpassed the number for all of July, showing a marked increase at the start of the month as coronavirus cases surge.

Sixty-four people died between Aug. 1 and Aug. 13, officials said. Just two weeks into the month, the number already exceeds the 39 deaths recorded in July.

Most of those who tested positive for the virus in that period were young people, who tend not to develop serious symptoms. But the most recent statistics are showing a trend of more middle-aged adults and seniors also catching the virus.

Hospitals and facilities set up to accommodate coronavirus patients have in some areas been running out of room because of the sharp increase in the number of patients with the virus. That creates a danger that patients could become seriously ill while they are resting at home without medical supervision.

In the span of just one week ending on Aug. 13, 41 people died--an increase of about 1.4 times from the previous week, according to a tally compiled by The Asahi Shimbun. The figure is comparable to early April, when a state of emergency was declared.

The number of coronavirus cases is now significantly higher than it was during the first wave.

July saw more than 17,000 cases, an increase of nearly 1.5 times from April. On the other hand, deaths are lower. The number of deaths recorded in July was only 39--much lower than the 393 recorded in April and 441 in May.

That's because recently most of the coronavirus patients were young people in their 20s and 30s with mild or no symptoms, who were not widely tested during the first wave.

The situation appears to be changing now. There were 742 patients in their 40s or older in Tokyo who tested positive for the coronavirus in the week ending Aug. 10. The previous week, that number was 685 people and it was only 575 the week before that.

According to the health ministry, 203 patients had serious symptoms across Japan as of Aug. 13--a six-fold increase from a month ago.

In the coronavirus cases, some patients' symptoms can worsen rapidly. 

Out of the 92 deaths recorded between July 1 and Aug. 12, at least 15 patients, or 16 percent, were confirmed to have the virus only after they died, according to documents obtained from municipal governments.

The health ministry is using lodging facilities to accommodate recovering patients rather than having them rest at home out of concern that their symptoms may rapidly worsen.

However, there are more than 3,000 coronavirus patients in Japan recovering at home, as of Aug. 5.

There are also many patients still waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to one of those facilities.

There are 961 patients in Tokyo and 119 in Chiba Prefecture still on the waiting lists, as of Aug. 12.

(This article was written by Akiyoshi Abe and Kazuya Goto.)