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Osaka to declare COVID-19 medical emergency amid strain on hospitals

7 April 2021 09:32

OSAKA. KAZINFORM - Osaka is set to declare Wednesday a state of medical emergency due to a recent surge of coronavirus infections in the western Japan prefecture that has increased the strain on the local health care system, Kyodo reports.

The prefecture's second such declaration, following one issued in December, will come as Osaka's hospital bed occupancy rate for those in serious condition nears 70 percent, with an increase in patients with severe symptoms expected to continue.

Osaka logged a record 719 new virus cases on Tuesday. The prefecture has seen the more contagious variants of the coronavirus make up around half of infections.

At its COVID-19 task force meeting, the prefectural government will also raise its virus alert on its own warning system to the highest «red» level in expectation that the hospital occupancy rate for serious COVID-19 cases will imminently surpass 70 percent. The figure stood at 66.5 percent on Tuesday.

Both the medical emergency declaration and the red alert level are largely symbolic moves aimed at raising vigilance among residents.

The prefecture's first medical emergency due to the pandemic was declared on Dec. 3 and lasted until the end of February, when the central government's state of emergency covering the region was lifted.

On Monday, Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures were placed under quasi-emergency measures, including fines for restaurants and bars that ignore orders to shorten operating hours. The measures are effective until May 5.

In Osaka city, eateries are asked to close at 8 p.m., while establishments outside the city are requested to shut down at 9 p.m.

The three prefectures became the first to be designated as being on the brink of a state of emergency under a revised law that took effect in February.