Japan is considering altering COVID-19 measures, including a potential change in the collection of infection numbers, in a bid to lessen the burden on hospitals as they strain under a resurgence of the coronavirus across the country, government sources said Saturday.

Medical facilities and public health centers currently cooperate to report the total COVID-19 cases to the government, but the change may limit reporting of cases from designated establishments, they said.

With the prevalent Omicron variant having less risk of causing severe illness compared with previous strains, some government officials have questioned the need to relay every case.

People visit a PCR testing venue in the central Japan city of Gifu on July 30, 2022, amid the continued spread of coronavirus infections. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The government is expected to start formal discussions after the seventh wave of the pandemic dies down.

Under Japan's infection laws, COVID-19 is classified under a category that authorizes the widest range of countermeasures including requests for the patients to stay at home. But the category of the illness may be changed to that for seasonal flu if its severity lessens.

While the government has designated hospitals to accept COVID-19 patients in a bid to prevent within hospital transmission, it may also allow general medical institutions to do so in order to reduce the strain on the designated hospitals.

The talks come as Japan logged 222,307 new infections Saturday, surpassing 200,000 for the fourth straight day. Occupancy rates for designated hospital beds stood at 54.1 percent in Tokyo.

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