New COVID-19 Cases May Cease to Fall in Japan: Panel

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Tokyo, Feb. 24 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese health ministry advisory panel said Wednesday that new COVID-19 cases in 10 hard-hit prefectures are declining at a slower pace, and may even stop falling.

But the panel said occupancy rates for hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the 10 prefectures are on a downtrend and that burdens on the medical system are easing.

Of the 10 prefectures, Chiba, east of Tokyo, requires attention as it is showing signs of new cases starting to turn higher.

The 10 prefectures are currently under a government-issued state of emergency over the pandemic, which expires on March 7. The government is considering lifting the emergency in six prefectures outside the Tokyo metropolitan area at the end of this month.

The panel said hospital bed occupancy rates remain high in the metropolitan area. "Measures need to be taken to prevent new cases from rebounding if the emergency is lifted," said the panel's chief, Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press