The governor of Osaka, Japan, recently warned that the region’s hospitals are on the brink of collapse in the midst of an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“Medical systems are on the verge of collapse,” Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said during a news conference Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported that according to health officials in the region, about 70 percent of hospital beds in Osaka are now occupied by COVID-19 patients, prompting Yoshimura to declare a “medical emergency.”
On Wednesday, 878 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Osaka, and the region has now reported over 56,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
According to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University, Osaka has the second most confirmed cases of the virus after Tokyo with more than 1
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Yoshimura, who previously only asked for the cancellation of the torch relay in Osaka city, said all segments of public roads should be canceled. The Olympic Organizing Committee later Wednesday said it will hold the Osaka leg in the Olympic torch scheduled for April 13-14 at the 1970 Osaka Expo Memorial Park.
The Tokyo Olympics start in just over three months with Japan’s vaccination run still in the initial stages. Experts say more contagious new variants of the virus are becoming more common, urging health authorities to respond quickly to prevent an explosive increase with only a fraction of the people inoculated.
The measures come two days after Yoshimura issued a set of special anti-virus measures only for Osaka city following Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s decision to place Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures under a semi-emergency.
Osaka’s nearby Hyogo prefecture is also facing a recovery and has introduced special virus measures in four cities starting Monday along with Sendai, a city in northern Miyagi prefecture.
Infections have also increased elsewhere in the western region, which experts say may require additional virus protection measures and requests to stay home, possibly leading to the cancellation of more torchlight events, which is a further setback for the Olympics.
Yoshimura said he plans to issue an emergency request to residents of Osaka prefecture to avoid unimportant excursions beginning Thursday.
Still, experts say Tokyo is on a rebound, with people flocking, commuting to work and dining and partying at restaurants and bars.
“A new wave of infections has begun. There is no doubt about it,” said Ryuji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, who heads a COVID-19 government council.