Photo/Illutration An electron microscope image of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus (Provided by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases)

Japan’s single-day death toll from COVID-19 hit a record high of 236 on Feb. 15, while the total number of infections during the continuing pandemic topped 4 million.

The overall number of COVID-19 cases exceeded 3 million on Feb. 3, meaning that 1 million new infections were reported over 12 days, including 84,221 on Feb. 15.

The death toll of 236 as of 8 p.m. on Feb. 15 broke the previous daily record of 216 on May 18 last year. In the earlier record, the Kobe city government reported 93 deaths on that day, even though the fatalities had occurred over a period of one and a half months.

Among prefectures, Osaka reported most of the deaths, 42, on Feb. 15. The patients were in their 50s to 90s.

It was the first time Osaka Prefecture reported more than 40 COVID-19 deaths for a single day since May 15 last year.

Aichi Prefecture reported 28 deaths on Feb. 15, Hyogo Prefecture had 20, and Tokyo confirmed 16.

“More elderly people and those with serious underlying conditions became infected and died,” Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said. “Their worsening pre-existing conditions were a bigger problem than the development of pneumonia.”

Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said most of the deaths in his central Japan prefecture were seniors who lost physical strength after becoming infected. He also said he would strengthen vaccination programs and increase testing at nursing care facilities.

Tochigi, Kagawa, Fukui, Aichi and Gifu prefectures set record highs for new infections on Feb. 15.

Tokyo recorded the most new COVID-19 cases in Japan at 15,525, but the number was down by 1,588 from the previous Tuesday and was the seventh straight week-on-week decline.