Photo/Illutration Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike at a meeting of health experts advising the Tokyo metropolitan government on Jan. 27 (Taichi Kobayashi)

Tokyo will confirm about 24,000 new COVID-19 cases on Feb. 3 if the raging wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant continues to spread at its current pace, health experts warned on Jan. 27.

The expert panel advising the Tokyo metropolitan government said the daily average of new cases for Tokyo in the week through Jan. 26 was 10,467, about 2.3 times that of the previous week.

The panel also reported that the number of at-home patients jumped to about 43,000 from the previous week when it was 15,000 or so.

In response, the metropolitan government said it will establish a call center with 300 lines operating 24 hours a day to receive phone calls from at-home patients to consult about their health conditions and concerns.

“If the infections spread further, deterioration in social functioning is inevitable,” said Norio Omagari, director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center under the National Center for Global Health and Medicine.

He also said it is worrying that the average weekly number of newly infected patients who are 65 or older and therefore at risk of developing severe symptoms has risen about three times more than the previous week.

The panel also reported that non-COVID-19 emergency health care services have taken a toll because health care organizations have reserved beds for COVID-19 patients and focused on treating patients with fevers.

The weekly average of the number of cases in which an emergency crew could not find a hospital to transport a patient even after the crew made a request to five health care organizations or 20 minutes after they began looking for a hospital has risen as well and hit a record high of 245.9 on Jan. 25.

Patients needing orthopedic surgery and cranial nerve surgery have increasingly faced such a situation, the panel said.

“In winter, there are many emergency patients who need emergency treatment for brain strokes and heart attacks,” said Masataka Inokuchi, vice chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association. “It has become difficult for such patients to be admitted to hospitals and measures need to be implemented.”