A hospital in Tokyo is on alert for a spike in the number of coronavirus infections as more than half of its beds allocated for COVID-19 patients have been occupied.
Nihon University Itabashi Hospital says five of the eight beds for seriously ill patients and pregnant women, as well as nine of the 19 beds for patients with moderate symptoms at its COVID-19 ward were occupied as of Thursday.
Hospital staff say many of the inpatients are senior citizens. They say some were initially admitted for other medical conditions and later confirmed to be infected, while others caught the virus at care homes.
The staff also say younger people with underlying health conditions, those who have received fewer doses of vaccines or those who got their last shot a long time ago are also being admitted.
The hospital is preparing to expand its COVID ward to 35 beds in case infections spread further.
Its deputy director, Takayama Tadateru, says the number of inpatients began to spike last week.
He notes that people with underlying health conditions tend to develop serious symptoms.
Takayama says people who haven't been vaccinated in some time should consider getting additional shots.
He also calls on people to take basic preventive measures, such as wearing masks and disinfecting their hands.