The rapid rise in omicron cases has prompted moves to concentrate medical resources on severely ill patients, amid worries that the health care system will once again be put under dire strain.

The development comes on top of the expected expansion of quasi-emergency measures to 18 more prefectures.

As some hospitals are starting to become overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, the government has decided that younger, low-risk patients can start isolating without a doctor’s diagnosis, so that those who have higher risk of developing severe symptoms will get necessary medical attention.