Governor urges postponing non-urgent surgeries

Kanagawa Governor Kuroiwa Yuji says he has asked medical institutions in his prefecture that take in coronavirus patients to postpone non-urgent surgeries to keep beds open.

The government of Kanagawa Prefecture, which borders Tokyo, asked medical institutions last November to increase the number of beds for coronavirus patients from 650 to 1,100.

But the figure remains at just over 830, and their occupancy rate topped 80 percent for the first time on Monday.

Kuroiwa told reporters on Tuesday that if infections continue to spread at the current pace, beds for patients that need to be hospitalized will run out by around February 6.

He also revealed that he requested the postponement of hospitalizations and surgeries that doctors deem non-urgent by about a month.

Kuroiwa said this might cause the public trouble, but sought understanding, saying it's a necessary measure to protect lives and the regional healthcare system.

The governor said if a state of emergency is declared by the government, he will focus on preventing infections at places where people eat and drink, and on promoting telecommuting.

He added he has no plans to ask a wide range of businesses to temporarily close or shorten hours.