The governor of Osaka, Japan, recently warned that hospitals in the region are on the verge of collapse amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Medical systems are on the verge of collapse,” Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told a news conference Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported that according to health officials in the region, approximately 70 percent of hospital beds in Osaka are now occupied by patients with COVID-19, prompting Yoshimura to declare “emergency medical care.”
878 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Osaka on Wednesday, and the region has so far reported more than 56,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
According to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University, Osaka has the second most confirmed virus after Tokyo, with more than 1
For more information from the Associated Press, see below.
Yoshimura, who previously demanded the cancellation of the torch relay only in the city of Osaka, said that all segments of public roads should be canceled. The Olympic Organizing Committee said later Wednesday that it would hold Osaka’s feet from the Olympic torch race, scheduled for April 13-14, at the Osaka Expo Memorial Park in 1970.
The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin in just over three months, with the quest for vaccination in Japan still in its infancy. Experts say increasingly contagious new variants of the virus are becoming more common, and are urging health officials to react quickly to prevent an explosive increase with only a fraction of people who have been inoculated.
The measures come two days after Yoshimura issued a set of special virus control measures only for the city of Osaka following Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s decision to put Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures in a semi-emergency state.
The neighboring prefecture of Osaka Hyogo is also on the rise and has imposed special virus measures in four cities since Monday, along with Sendai, a city in northern Miyagi Prefecture.
Infections have increased elsewhere in the western region, which experts say may require additional virus protection measures and requests to stay at home, which could lead to the cancellation of more torchlight events, which is an additional obstacle to the Olympics.
Yoshimura said he plans to make an urgent request to residents of Osaka Prefecture to avoid minor outings starting on Thursday.
Still, experts say Tokyo is recovering as people go out in crowds, commute to work, dine and party in restaurants and bars.
“A new wave of infections has begun. There is no doubt about it,” said Ryuji Vakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which heads the government’s advisory board on COVID-19.