Japan confirmed 2,810 daily coronavirus cases Wednesday as well as 555 people with severe symptoms, both record highs, as the country continued to grapple with a spike in infections.
Record daily highs were also confirmed in six prefectures, including Aichi, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kagoshima.
Tokyo, the hardest-hit of the country's 47 prefectures, reported 572 new infections, its second-highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic. The capital logged a record 584 cases on Saturday.
The capital and other urban areas like Osaka and the country's northernmost main island of Hokkaido have seen rising novel coronavirus infections since November.
In order to contain the recent resurgence of infections, medical experts reiterated that the Japanese public should reconsider traveling, with the year-end and New Year period approaching when people usually take trips to spend time with their families.
"When it comes to countermeasures against infection, it is important not to spread the virus to others. I would like people planning to travel to think once again whether they need to take trips now," said Toshio Nakagawa, the head of the Japan Medical Association.
Shigeru Omi, who heads the government's panel on virus countermeasures, also called for the suspension of Japan's "Go To Travel" subsidy program in areas of the country that have seen a rapid spread of infections.
"It is better to suspend it now considering the current situation regarding the virus. (The government should) restart it after the number of infections drops to gain public understanding and help the economy," Omi told a subcommittee of the House of Representatives.
The domestic travel campaign began in July to support the tourism industry battered by the pandemic. However, trips to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, and Osaka were excluded from the program last month due to rising infections, and some medical experts have said the campaign has possibly contributed to the recent spike in cases.
Hospital beds and lodging facilities provided for COVID-19 patients have been increasingly occupied due to the recent increase in cases, raising concern about a possible collapse of the health care system.
Ground Self-Defense Force nurses started working the same day at facilities in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, after being dispatched to the northern Japan city to help it cope with a shortage of health care staff.
The nurses, who will stay for up to two weeks, started assisting medical staff at a hospital and a facility for people with disabilities, both of which have recently seen cluster infections.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Tuesday that about 10 GSDF nurses would be sent to Asahikawa following a request from Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki.
"Members of the SDF have been sent here as a last resort. We want their support in containing cluster infections," said Go Asari, who is in charge of anti-virus measures at the city's health center.
Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura has also requested the Defense Ministry to dispatch SDF nurses to the western Japan prefecture. The prefecture logged 427 coronavirus cases on Wednesday.