• Jiji, Kyodo


The Osaka Prefectural Government asked private hospitals in the prefecture Tuesday for around 30 beds to treat novel coronavirus patients.

The emergency request, made to a hospital group, is based on the special measures law on the fight against the pandemic.

"We would like to ask for cooperation from hospitals that are capable enough," Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said at the prefectural government office. "If they don't, we'll have to issue a directive based on Article 33 of the special measures law."

In late December, the prefectural government asked 108 private hospitals without beds for coronavirus patients to secure 200 beds in total for them.

While 28 hospitals allocated around 100 beds after the request, the others were either unable to admit coronavirus patients or did not respond.

As a result, the government decided to narrow the scope of the request to 16 hospitals of a certain size and ask for around 30 beds.

Separately, it requested 39 public hospitals to additionally offer 200 out of currently unused beds. Those beds will be used once the bed occupancy rate for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, which currently stands at around 79%, exceeds 85%.

With the country experiencing its largest spike in coronavirus cases yet, a state of emergency was expanded beyond the Tokyo metropolitan area to Osaka and other prefectures last week after the cumulative total of infections in the country topped 300,000.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's administration is readying legislation to punish refusal to comply with government-mandated COVID-19 measures, amid concerns it may infringe too much on personal freedoms.

Under the proposed revision, language saying the government and prefectural governors can "request" that hospitals free up more beds would be changed to say they can "recommend" such a move, with the ability to name those that do not cooperate.

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