Japan on Friday logged 371 coronavirus-related deaths, marking the highest daily figure since the pandemic began as the country grapples with an eighth wave of infections.

The previous high was on Sept. 2 during the seventh wave, when the death toll was 347. The cumulative number of deaths due to COVID-19 since Jan. 1 is now more than 36,600, pushing the daily average this year to over 100 dead.

Japan also recorded 174,079 new infections on Friday, with cases up by about 20,000 from the same day last week.

The government, at a panel meeting to discuss measures against the spread of both COVID-19 and influenza, decided to call on those with mild coronavirus symptoms to recover at home ahead of the New Year's period amid a rise in hospital bed occupancy rates.

At the panel, health minister Katsunobu Kato also expressed concern over those who become unwell during the holidays as many medical centers are due to temporarily close.

There were 24 deaths in Tokyo on Friday, while there were 25 in Hokkaido in Japan's north, and 28 in Kanagawa Prefecture, near the capital.

Meanwhile, new infections numbered 17,332 in Tokyo, 10,938 in Aichi Prefecture and 10,537 in Osaka Prefecture. Nationally, there were 536 people with severe symptoms on Friday, nine less than the previous day, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.