The Japanese government's coronavirus advisory panel said on Wednesday that the pandemic's impact on the medical system should be a key factor in deciding whether to lift a state of emergency.
The expert panel presented to the government a new set of proposals to tackle the pandemic. A state of emergency is currently in place in Tokyo and 20 other prefectures until September 12.
The panel said a government decision to lift the state of emergency should be based on the precondition that new infection levels had declined steadily for about two weeks.
The experts added that greater emphasis should be placed on assessing the burden on medical services. They advised examining the impact on coronavirus patients as well as those seeking general medical care.
They also said that the number of patients with severe or moderate coronavirus symptoms needed to decline steadily before lifting the state of emergency.
The panel added that the ratio of patients isolating at home or awaiting treatment should also drop to about 60 people per population of 100,000, especially in large urban areas.
As for the burden on general medical services, the panel said that the number of cases in which patients encountered difficulty with emergency transport should also decline in large urban areas.
The experts said that government decisions should be made cautiously, taking into account the possibility that infections could resurge after the state of emergency is lifted.
The panel said it would propose a new set of criteria in response to the coronavirus situation as vaccination levels continue to rise.
Panel head Omi Shigeru will hold a news conference later on Wednesday.