Tokyo’s hospital occupancy rate hits 48% as capital logs 17,433 new cases

Tokyo on Saturday confirmed 17,433 COVID-19 cases and three deaths as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to wreak havoc across the country. The number of cases was down slightly from the record high reported the day before.

The occupancy rate of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the capital was 48%, up 1.9 percentage points from Friday, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The number of seriously ill patients according to Tokyo’s criteria rose by two to 22.

Osaka Prefecture saw a record 10,383 cases, a slight increase from Friday, while Aichi Prefecture hit a new high with 5,613 cases and reported two deaths. Chiba Prefecture recorded 3,365 cases and one death.

Elsewhere, Hyogo Prefecture saw a record 4,634 new cases and six deaths, while Hokkaido saw a new high of 3,002 infections and one death. Gunma, Iwate, and Okayama prefectures also saw record highs.

Okinawa Prefecture, which was among the first prefectures hit by the current wave of infections, has seen a slow decline in the number of cases in recent days. 979 new infections were reported on Saturday, up from 1,313 a week ago. Hiroshima Prefecture, which also had cases spoken earlier than other parts of the country, reported two deaths and 1,356 new cases, up from the 1,584 logged a week ago.

On Friday, the nationwide number reached 81,822, setting a new record for the fourth straight day. Japan saw an explosion in daily COVID-19 cases about a month ago, when there were only about 500 cases per day, as the omicron variant of the virus spread nationwide.

“It’s hard to say whether (the virus spread) will peak in a week or two,” despite the slowing of the rise in new cases in most parts of the country, Shigeru Omi, the government’s top COVID-19 adviser, said in a parliamentary session on Friday.

The number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms stood at 697 on Friday, up 160 from the previous day, the health ministry said.

According to a survey by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases of 122 people admitted to hospitals and confirmed to be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, 63% of them had already been vaccinated twice against COVID-19, recent studies show who show vaccine-induced immunity wanes over time.

Currently, 34 of the country’s 47 prefectures have been placed under a virtual state of emergency, allowing local authorities to ask restaurants and bars to reduce opening hours and limit or stop serving alcohol.

The rapid spread of the variant is putting pressure on the healthcare system and other sectors of society. Therefore, Japan will further reduce the quarantine period from the current 10 to seven days for people who have been in close contact with someone infected with the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday.

Japan also reduced the 10-day self-isolation required for people entering the country to seven days from Saturday, the health ministry said late Friday.

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