TOKYO: The occupancy rate for hospital beds for COVID-19 patients exceeded 50 percent in six of Japan’s 47 prefectures as of Wednesday, the health ministry has said.
The rate for beds that are supposed to be secured during the infection peak newly topped 50 percent in Aichi, Mie and Osaka, joining Hokkaido, Hyogo and Kochi, where the rate had already been above the threshold.
With a bed occupancy rate of 50 percent or higher, a prefecture is recognized as being in Stage 4, the worst level on the four-tier scale for gauging the degree of the spread of the coronavirus, which indicates that infections are spreading explosively.
The rate was highest in Hyogo at 63.6 percent, down by 5.3 percentage points from a week before, followed by Osaka, at 60.4 percent, up 11.1 points.
The ministry also said that 28 prefectures, including the six, saw their COVID-19 bed occupancy rates exceed 20 percent, meeting the definition of Stage 3, the second-worst level on the scale indicating a rapid increase of infections.
The number of such prefectures increased by four from a week before.
The rate dropped below 20 percent in Yamanashi, Ehime and Oita, but rose above 20 percent in Iwate, Fukushima, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Kagoshima.
The bed occupancy rate rose by 3.4 points to 49.7 percent in Tokyo, where the alert on medical capacity related to the novel coronavirus was raised on Thursday to the highest level on its four-tier assessment system.
The occupancy rate for hospital beds for seriously ill COVID-19 patients was above the Stage 3 threshold in 10 prefectures.
Tokyo saw the highest rate, at 66.4 percent, up 11.4 points, while Osaka saw its rate stand at 55.3 percent. Both were in the Stage 4 category.