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Tokyo COVID-19 hospitalisations mount, cross closely watched 50% threshold

Tokyo COVID-19 hospitalisations mount, cross closely watched 50% threshold

A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) works in the Intensive Care Unit for COVID-19 patients at St. Marianna Medical University Hospital in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan May 4, 2020. (File photo: Reuters/Issei Kato)

TOKYO: More than half of Tokyo's hospital beds set aside for COVID-19 patients were occupied on Tuesday (Feb 1), a level that officials have previously flagged as a criterion for requesting a state of emergency.

The capital and most of Japan are now under curbs to contain record coronavirus cases driven by the contagious Omicron variant.

Tokyo has set aside almost 7,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, and admissions have risen sharply this month, reaching 50.7 per cent on Tuesday. New infections numbered 14,445.

Governor Yuriko Koike had said 50 per cent bed usage would be a threshold for requesting an emergency declaration from the central government.

But last week she told reporters such a request would not be automatic, and would also take into consideration the opinions of health experts and the number of serious cases.

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government was not currently considering declaring a state of emergency.

The current curbs empower regional governors to order restaurants and bars to shorten their business hours and stop serving alcohol.

A full state of emergency, not used in Japan since September last year, would involve stricter measures, such as fines for non-compliant businesses as well as attendance limits at sporting events and concerts.

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Source: Reuters/ng

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