TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide said his government’s priority is to reduce the increase in COVID-19 infections as the Delta variant is now “rampant” in Japan.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday evening, Suga said the number of infections is rising and, having passed 20,000 per day, the situation is “critical.”
“It’s at a level that we haven’t experienced before,” Suga said. “The number of the seriously ill is rising, and health centers are in a difficult situation. It’s at a completely different level, and we must support the healthcare system and introduce countermeasures to ensure that the medical system can function.”
Suga said that seven more prefectures would come under an emergency from August 12 to September 12.
Despite some public dissatisfaction with the Covid response in Japan, Suga pointed out that 80 percent of those over 60 had been vaccinated, and half the population had had their first doses.
In other action, the government will add more beds to deal with sick patients while also helping those recovering at home, including medical staff visiting patients in their homes. Prevention was also key, he said.
“We need to reduce the number of infections,” he reiterated. “We must cut by half the number of people in congested areas; we must promote teleworking and prevent clusters at companies and other places.” Stopping the serving of alcohol was another measure the government will support by offering subsidies to businesses affected.
Suga said the number of hospital beds has been increased but remains “a tough issue.” The government will cooperate with local governments to increase the number of beds available, and the idea of using the Olympic Village as an emergency medical facility has been raised, although Suga said that was an issue for the Tokyo government.
Dr. Shigeru Omi, the medical adviser to Japan’s prime minister stated at the same press conference that the situation in Japan was “close to a disaster.” Medical workers are working hard on both general treatment and COVID, but cooperation is needed with doctors not working on COVID, and we need to establish new rules and a framework to work on. At the news conference, Dr. Shigeru Omi also said it was difficult to raise the capacity of medical services and warned of the long-term effects of the disease.