Amid Japan's recent surge in COVID-19 cases, younger, low-risk people who are infected have been asked to stay at home to recover — without being diagnosed by a doctor first or getting any health checkups from public health centers — in order to prevent a flood of patients into clinics and hospitals.

According to health ministry data released Friday, a record 264,859 people who tested positive for the coronavirus were isolating at home as of Jan. 26 — about 2½ times higher than the figure from the same day the week before. It was also twice the peak seen on Sept. 1 during the country's fifth wave, when 131,214 were recuperating at home.

In order to focus medical resources on severely ill and high-risk patients, the health ministry is allowing younger, healthier people who get infected to isolate at home if they test positive using a kit they’ve purchased on their own, instead of visiting a doctor.