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Disease experts seek halving of Tokyo foot traffic to curb COVID

Medical association exec warns health care system in danger of collapse

Experts at a Tokyo Metropolitan Government meeting on Aug. 12 monitoring COVID-19 described the spread of the virus as "a disaster-level emergency situation that is out of control."   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Infectious disease experts on Thursday called for the need to cut foot traffic in Tokyo by half from the level in early July, with the capital seeing an alarming rise in coronavirus infections.

The experts on a government subcommittee on the COVID-19 response also urged, in their draft proposal, for strengthening measures to reduce crowds in situations where infection risk is high including underground food sections at department stores and shopping malls.

With patients in need of medical attention rising, the experts stressed the need to seek cooperation from health institutions which have previously not been involved in coronavirus response and promote coordination with prefectural governments over hospitalization of patients.

The number of new COVID-19 cases nationwide totaled 15,812 on Wednesday, topping the previous record of 15,753 reported on Saturday, according to a Kyodo News tally.

Also Wednesday, Tokyo's daily coronavirus cases totaled 4,200, topping the 4,000 line again following a brief dip since late last week, with the number of patients showing severe symptoms also reaching a fresh record of 197 from 176 the previous day.

Experts at Thursday's metropolitan government meeting on monitoring COVID-19 described the coronavirus status in the capital, currently under a fourth state of emergency, as "a disaster-level emergency situation that is out of control."

As new daily infections in Tokyo have moved around 2,000 to 5,000 in recent weeks, they also warned that the medical system is failing to function, including in terms of paramedic response and administering surgeries.

They also cautioned that the seven-day rolling average of new infections on Aug. 25 would be 5,113, if the current expansion trend continues.

"The medical system cannot be maintained if the current infection situation continues," Masataka Inokuchi, a vice chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, told the meeting.

Inokuchi noted it has not only become difficult for hospitals to take in coronavirus patients whose symptoms have deteriorated while recuperating at home but also of patients in need of emergency response due to injuries and illness.

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