Tokyo, Oct 9 (IANS) The number of excess deaths in Japan was estimated to have reached between 17,000 and 46,000 in the first six months of the year, the highest figure since the COVID pandemic began in early 2020.
The estimates were compiled by organisations including the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, an institution under the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to statistics from the ministry and Kyodo News, Japan’s total number of deaths during the six-month period came in at 777,000, and more than 12,800 people died from COVID infections, Kyodo News reported.
Experts believed that apart from direct deaths due to COVID, the increase in excess mortality can also be attributed to deaths indirectly caused by the pandemic, citing deaths from other diseases due to the inability to access medical institutions and worsened chronic illnesses due to lifestyle changes, as well as suicides due to economic hardships, the media reported.
The number of deaths from diseases and accidents other than COVID decreased due to thorough prevention and control measures when the outbreak initially began in 2020, when the overall number of deaths also decreased, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
In 2021, however, more than 1.43 million people died, the highest number recorded in the post-war period, due to factors including the spread of the Delta variant of COVID.
Experts predicted that in 2022, the number of deaths in Japan is likely to exceed that in 2021 due to the impact of the Omicron variant.
Excess mortality, which indicates how much the number of actual deaths during a certain period is higher than the forecasts based on the usual level, is a common index used to study the impact of epidemics caused by infectious diseases.
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