Serious COVID-19 Cases at Record High, Japan’s Health Ministry Panel Says

The number of COVID-19 patients with serious symptoms is at a record high level while deaths from the disease continue to rise, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s advisory panel said Monday about the infection situation in Japan, adding that it would take a certain period of time for coronavirus infection cases to decrease.

Although a decline can be seen in the number of newly infected people in Tokyo and 10 other prefectures where a state of emergency is in effect, the panel said that in most of the areas the medical system remains in a severe situation.

By the central government’s count, the number of new infections per 100,000 people in Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures over the week through Jan. 31 was at Stage 4, the most serious level. The same data for Tochigi, Aichi, Hyogo and two other prefectures under the emergency were at or below Stage 3, a benchmark for lifting the state of emergency.

However, the occupancy rate of hospital beds secured assuming peak infection levels was at Stage 4 in nine prefectures.

The panel said reduced hours at restaurants and bars under the state of emergency contributed to a decline in the number of newly infected people, but mass infections broke out at medical and welfare facilities. Thus, the number of infections among people in their 80s and 90s, who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill, did not decline.