Tokyo says Covid-19 strain on hospitals severe, raises alert to highest

The metropolitan government said the number of coronavirus cases hit 822 on Dec 17.
The metropolitan government said the number of coronavirus cases hit 822 on Dec 17.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's capital Tokyo said on Thursday (Dec 17) the strain on its medical system from the Covid-19 pandemic was severe, raising its alert level to the highest of four stages as the number of cases spiked to a record daily high of 822.

A health official said it had become difficult to balance the care of Covid-19 patients with regular ones as hospital beds filled up, assigning a "red" alert for medical preparedness for the first time.

"Medical service providers have exhausted all spare resources," Dr Masataka Inokuchi, vice-chair of the Tokyo Medical Association, told a coronavirus monitoring committee meeting attended by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

"Reducing the number of (Covid-19) patients will be the only way to go."

The metropolitan government said the number of coronavirus cases hit 822 on Thursday, surpassing the previous record of 678 reached a day earlier.

A month ago, the city raised its coronavirus alert for new infections - a separate category - to the highest level.

It had kept its alert for medical preparedness at the second-highest level at the time, indicating a need to boost hospital capacity but a notch below critical conditions.