Tokyo raised COVID alert level to ‘most severe’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Tokyo metropolitan government building

The Tokyo metropolitan government has raised its coronavirus alert level on Thursday to the most severe level on its four-level scale.

The infection alert level was raised amid a rapid increase in new infections.

The alert level for the medical system, which the metropolitan government also measures on a four-level scale, has been raised to the second most serious level.

The official decision was made at a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

It is the first time for the capital to come under the most serious infection alert since April 21. The seven-day moving average of daily infection cases in Tokyo was around 1,000 until mid-June, but exceeded 2,000 on June 26. The figure surpassed 5,000 on July 7 and topped 10,000 on Wednesday.

The surge is believed to be due to the BA.5 subvariant of the omicron variant replacing the conventional variants.

The hospital bed occupancy rate is increasing as well. The metropolitan government had secured about 5,000 beds for COVID-19 patients until early June, but has requested medical institutions to increase the number to a total of 7,000, as the bed occupancy rate exceeded 40% on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, the occupancy rate stood at 31.7%, according to the metropolitan government.