Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura declared on Feb. 8 a state of medical emergency for the prefecture, due to ballooning novel coronavirus cases and the strain on medical services.

The occupancy rate of beds for COVID-19 patients with mild or moderate symptoms is topping 100 percent in the prefecture, as well as seeing an increase in patients suffering from serious novel coronavirus symptoms. 

“The medical services are under huge pressure," Yoshimura told reporters on Feb. 8 in announcing the medical state of emergency.

He said that the prefecture is seeing an increase in hospitalizations among elderly COVID-19 patients, adding that more than 70 percent of the hospitalized novel coronavirus patients in the prefecture are in their 70s or older.

In the prefecture, a total of 3,183 hospital beds are reserved for COVID-19 patients with mild or moderate symptoms, and the occupancy rate of these reached 103.5 percent as of Feb. 7.

Yoshimura said, however, the need for hospitalizations has been met as hospitals in the prefecture have accepted COVID-19 patients in beds that they have temporarily prepared.

The prefectural government is asking hospitals to resume using beds that are not in use to accept COVID-19 patients.

The occupancy rate of hospital beds set aside for seriously ill COVID-19 patients, 612 in total, is 22.2 percent as of Feb. 7 in the prefecture.

However, the rate stands at 25.7 percent if the 21 patients are taken into account who, although only having mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms, are occupying hospital beds for seriously ill novel coronavirus patients because they have another serious illness.

The prefecture’s policy is to ask the central government to declare a state of emergency if the occupancy rate of hospital beds for seriously ill COVID-19 patients reaches 40 percent, taking into account such patients.