All national papers wrote that a record 23,916 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus across the nation yesterday, more than 3,000 higher than the previous record marked on Aug. 13. The numbers of new cases hit record highs in 27 prefectures, including Osaka (2,296), Fukuoka (1,253), Aichi (1,227), and Hyogo (1,088). GOJ coronavirus taskforce subcommittee Chairman Omi indicated at the Diet yesterday that the actual number of cases is probably much higher, citing a shortage of PCR diagnostic tests.
According to the Health Ministry coronavirus advisory board, the seven-day average of the number of new cases per 100,000 people as of Aug. 17 exceeded 25, the level that warrants the issuance of a state of emergency, in 40 of the 47 prefectures, including in Okinawa (312) and Tokyo (228). The board members reportedly concluded that the Delta strain now accounts for almost 90% of all new cases. About 3% of the 57,283 people who tested positive for the virus nationwide from Aug. 10-12 were fully vaccinated. One board member reportedly estimated that hospital beds for seriously ill patients in Tokyo will remain almost fully occupied through October even if the upward trajectory turns downward immediately.
Yomiuri noted that hospital beds for COVID-19 patients are filling quickly and hospital admissions have plunged steeply in the face of the weeks-long surge in infections. As more than 60,000 people are currently recuperating at home in the Tokyo metropolitan area alone, calls are mounting among physicians in the field for the GOJ to prepare for the swift launch of “field hospitals” tasked exclusively with administering antibody cocktails to patients with mild symptoms.