Tokyo, Nov. 24 (Jiji Press)–A health ministry advisory team Tuesday issued a strong warning over the novel coronavirus, which is spreading rapidly in Tokyo and some other regions in Japan.
“Depending on regions, we can see a rapid spread of infections,” said the team, chaired by Takaji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
“If the current situation continues, the medical and public health systems will be significantly affected. We may become unable to save lives that would have been saved,” the team continued.
At a meeting Tuesday, the team put the estimated effective reproduction number, or the average number of people whom a coronavirus carrier infects, for the entire Japan at 1.30 as of Nov. 5.
The number was almost unchanged from the estimate of 1.31 as of Nov. 1 presented at a meeting Thursday. A reading of 1.00 or higher indicates that infections are spreading.
As of Nov. 7, the number stood at 1.15 in Hokkaido, 1.67 in Tokyo, 1.40 in Aichi Prefecture and 2.24 in Osaka Prefecture.
New coronavirus infection cases increased by 14,919 during the week through Monday, hitting more than twice the level of two weeks before and the biggest weekly growth.
Areas around Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi and Osaka have seen cases in which some restrictions on accepting new surgeries and emergency patients are implemented, according to the team.
Given the difficulty of increasing hospital beds and medical staff quickly, it is getting hard to deal with coronavirus carriers and other patients at the same time, the team said.
“If the current situation continues, we may become unable to save lives that would have been saved otherwise,” the team warned.
It is necessary to take steps to reduce the opportunities to have close contact in areas where it is becoming difficult to provide enough medical services to those who need them, Wakita told a news conference after Tuesday’s meeting.