While the occupancy rate of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in Tokyo exceeded the 50% threshold Tuesday, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike remained cautious about asking the central government to issue a COVID-19 state of emergency for the capital.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said the hospital bed occupancy rate has reached 50.7%, but Koike has pointed to the need to watch closely the bed occupancy rate of severely ill patients and those with moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
With most hospital beds currently filled with patients with mild symptoms, Koike has expressed reluctance to ask the central government to place Tokyo under a state of emergency.
She is planning to consider what actions she will take after looking at how strained the medical care system is.
The bed occupancy rate of 50% is a rough guidepost used by prefectural governments to decide whether to raise their novel coronavirus alert to Level 3, which indicates that they are in a state of emergency, under the government’s new five-tier alert system announced in November.
As this system was introduced before the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the metropolitan government has asked the central government to review the criteria to declare a state of emergency.
Although the omicron variant has spread throughout the country, causing a surge in the number of people admitted to hospitals, many of them have displayed mild symptoms.
The number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms under Tokyo’s criteria stood at 29 as of Tuesday, one-tenth of the peak level during the fifth infection wave in Japan in August last year.
Tokyo is currently placed by the central government in a quasi-emergency stage until Feb. 13. Eating and drinking establishments have been asked to cut their business hours since Jan. 21.
Data have shown that the number of people out and about in Tokyo’s busy neighborhoods late at night went down by 24.7%, compared with before the capital was designated for quasi-emergency measures.
Koike has said that she will assess the effects of the quasi-emergency designation.
It is unclear whether the metropolitan government will be able to gain the understanding of its citizens to take more stringent measures, such as asking restaurants to close temporarily.
“We’d like to curb (COVID-19 infections) somehow while (Tokyo) is under the pre-emergency state,” a senior official at the metropolitan government said.
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Source: The Japan Times