Japan may be the envy of many other developed nations for having the highest number of hospital beds per capita and a relatively low number of cumulative COVID-19 cases, but that hasn't prevented the system from nearly reaching its breaking point.

The spread of the highly contagious delta variant led to daily case loads of nearly 26,000 nationwide and more than 5,700 in Tokyo alone last month, which pushed the Suga administration to limit hospitalizations to patients with moderate or serious cases and those at high risk of developing severe symptoms.

Despite frequent check-ins by health centers, some of the more than 26,000 people who were isolating at home during the wave's peak in Tokyo last month saw their condition quickly deteriorate in a matter of a few hours, leading to a rise in the number of those who have died at home. Twenty-one people with COVID-19, some of whom initially had mild symptoms, were found dead at home in Tokyo last month, double the number reported between December and July.