Photo/Illutration Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura meets reporters on May 2. (The Asahi Shimbun)

OSAKA--Authorities in Osaka Prefecture, the nation's third most populous, released their own numerical guidelines May 5 for deciding whether to lift a request for voluntarily restricting social and business activities to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the special measures law to deal with the outbreak nationwide, the Osaka prefectural government asked local residents to remain at home and requested that businesses in certain sectors temporarily close operations.

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura had strongly condemned the central government for its failure to present numerical indicators in deciding whether to continue with the state of emergency and accused it of not having an adequate exit strategy for dealing with the pandemic.

Osaka, along with Tokyo and 11 other prefectures, is designated as an area where extra precautions should be taken to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus. Osaka has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections after Tokyo.

The prefectural government set numerical targets for three areas and if the goals are met over the course of seven consecutive days, its restrictions could be lifted as early as May 15.

The three targets are: less than 10 individuals a day whose infection routes for the coronavirus are unknown; the percentage of those testing positive for the coronavirus is under 7 percent; and less than 60 percent of hospital beds set aside for those with serious symptoms of COVID-19 are filled.

Because of wide fluctuations in numbers for the first two categories, a moving average over the past seven days will be calculated in determining if the target is being met.

If the three goals are met over a period of a week, the prefectural government will partially lift its restrictions.

In the meantime, the central government will consult its panel of experts on the coronavirus outbreak around May 14 to assess the trend of new infections and the situation at medical institutions. Based on that finding, the government intends to lift the state of emergency for prefectures where there is a reduced risk of new infections spreading.

Osaka prefectural government officials indicated they would make a final decision about lifting the restrictions after taking the expert panel's assessment into consideration.