Osaka healthcare system under strain

NHK -- May 02
Osaka reported a record 1,262 new cases on Saturday. 41 people have died, the second largest daily figure to date.

It's been almost one week since the latest state of emergency came into effect. And in Osaka, one of the four prefectures under the emergency declaration, the regional healthcare system is under stain.

Starting Saturday, Osaka University Hospital set aside all 30 of its beds in its Intensive Care Unit for Covid-19 patients, in line with the request from the prefecture.

The hospital is recognized for conducting organ transplants. But a doctor in the ICU says it will be impossible to perform such surgeries if there are no beds available.

The western prefecture of Fukuoka, which is not under an emergency declaration, is also seeing a rise in infections. The daily tally has been exceeding 300 in recent days.

The prefecture has asked the central government to allow it to implement intensive anti-virus measures.

Fukuoka Governor Hattori Seitaro says, "We haven't seen a decline in the number of infected people. Furthermore, available hospital beds are decreasing, making it difficult to predict the situation."

The governor says he will consult with the central government in deciding which municipalities will be subject to the measures and for how long.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide met with a lawmaker of his governing Liberal Democratic Party who is also a dentist.

The government has decided to allow dentists to administer vaccine shots in regions where there are staff shortages.

They discussed ways to accelerate the vaccine rollout, including using university hospitals as inoculation sites.

A new online survey by researchers that included staff from the University of Tokyo has uncovered a troubling result.

Only 46.6 percent of respondents said they have worked out who to consult and what means of transportation they will use to get to hospital should they develop symptoms.

Also, only 39 percent said they are avoiding contact with people older than them.

The researchers say the results suggest there is insufficient awareness among people despite being more than a year into the pandemic.

Across the country, officials reported nearly 6,000 new cases on Saturday. The daily count in Tokyo was 1,050.

Over 1,000 patients are in serious condition.