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The number of severely ill coronavirus patients in Japan has fallen to 99, standing below 100 for the first time since Aug. 4 last year, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms peaked at 2,223 on Sept. 4 amid the fifth wave of infections in the country, putting strain on the health care system.

The number has since continued falling, standing at 100 on Saturday and Sunday and 101 on Monday.

According to ministry data as of Nov. 2, men in their 50s made up the largest group of severely ill male COVID-19 patients, accounting for 36 %. Among women, those in their 60s and 70s each accounted for 26 %, higher than 17 % for those in their 50s.

“The sharp fall in the number of severely ill coronavirus patients can be attributed to the effects of vaccinations in preventing severe symptoms,” an infectious disease expert said. “Even breakthrough infection cases among people who have been vaccinated twice show only minor symptoms.”

The expert also said, “Although pneumonia patients tend to develop severe symptoms in winter, the number of severely ill coronavirus patients is expected to stay at current low levels at least until the end of this year.”

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