2 prefectures at worst stage over hospital beds

A government panel on the coronavirus outbreak says two prefectures, Okinawa and Ishikawa, still remain at the worst of the four stages in hospital bed availability.

The subcommittee on Thursday released the latest data on the severity of the pandemic for each of the nation's 47 prefectures, including strains on the medical system.

The panel uses four stages to assess the situation.

Stage 4, the worst level, means preparations are needed for an explosive rise in infections. The criterion for the hospital bed occupancy rate is 50 percent or more.

The rate for Okinawa was 60.2 percent as of September 1 and that for Ishikawa was 51.6 percent. The rate was down slightly from a week earlier for both prefectures.

The number of prefectures at Stage 3 was down by two to total 10. Stage 3 means there are concerns about major difficulties in the availability of medical care. The bed occupancy rate is 20 percent or more.

The 10 prefectures at Stage 3 were Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Fukui, Nagano, Aichi, Osaka, Tokushima and Fukuoka.

Mie, Shiga, Kyoto and Hyogo were removed from Stage 3 as the situation has improved, while Fukui and Nagano were newly added.

An expert panel of the health ministry says the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus is largely on the decline, but remains high in some areas. The panel called for continued efforts to ensure medical care is available.