Number of seriously ill Covid patients in Japan hit second-highest ever

The number of patients designated as having severe symptoms as a result of Covid-19 reached the second-highest ever at 1,209, the health ministry said on Friday.

The latest data regarding critically ill patients, who typically require hospitalization and the assistance of ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines, have more than tripled over the past month, the ministry said recently.

Friday’s figure, which has stayed above the 1,000-mark since April 30, according to the health ministry, is just a fraction below the all-time record high booked on Thursday at 1,214 severely ill patients.

As well as requesting people in the most affected areas to work remotely and avoid making unnecessary trips outside or across prefectural borders, other antiviral measures currently in place include requesting bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors to shutter their operations by 8 p.m. and not serve alcohol, the Xinhua news agency reported.

In addition, large spectator venues have now had the number of attendees capped at 5,000 or 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity and events must end by 9 p.m.

Japanese nationals and foreign residents arriving from India, Pakistan and Nepal where highly contagious virus variants have been wreaking havoc, meanwhile, also now face stricter virus protocols upon re-entering Japan.

Nationwide, 6,266 new daily infections were confirmed Friday, with Tokyo and Osaka reporting 854 and 576 new cases respectively.

Japan’s cumulative total of infections since the outbreak of the virus here has reached 673,109 cases, with the total death toll rising to 11,396 people, according to the latest figures released Friday evening by local authorities and the health ministry.