Photo/Illutration The Omicron subvariant of the novel coronavirus (Provided by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases)

Japan posted an all-time record of 200,975 fresh cases of COVID-19 on July 23, surpassing the 200,000 mark for the first time and making it the fourth consecutive day of a daily high since the pandemic struck in 2020.

Of the nation’s 47 prefectures, 17 reported record numbers of cases in the latest and seventh wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant.

Health authorities announced 72 related deaths nationwide the same day.

The number of new cases on July 23 compared with 110,655 a week earlier, raising concerns that the nation should brace for a sharp upsurge in cases in the coming weeks amid the summer break while schools are closed.

Japan logged 110,655 new cases on July 16, surpassing the peak of the sixth wave of infections in February.

Four days later, the number shot up to more than 150,000 and in excess of 195,000 on July 22.

In a related development, the government announced July 23 that Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno was confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus earlier in the day.

Matsuno, 59, developed a fever on the evening of July 22. He is displaying no symptoms now and resting at home, according to government officials.

They said he did not have any close contact with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida or other key officials during the course of performing his duties.