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The occupancy rate for hospital beds set aside for coronavirus patients had topped 50% in 12 of the 47 prefectures as of Wednesday, down by three from a week before, according to the health ministry.

An occupancy rate of 50% or higher indicates that the coronavirus situation has reached Stage 4, the worst level on the country’s scale of alert.

The 12 prefectures are Tokyo, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Mie, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

The situation is especially dire in Okinawa, where the occupancy rate has exceeded 80%. Okinawa is not covered by the ongoing state of emergency declared by the central government over the epidemic.

The number of coronavirus patients staying at home decreased by around 9,000 from a week earlier to 17,092.

While the strain on the country’s medical system has been reduced slightly thanks to a fall in the number of new infection cases, the situation remains serious especially in the areas where the state of emergency was extended through March 7.

While Kyoto was added to the list of Stage 4 prefectures, the bed occupancy rate for Tochigi, Gifu, Shiga and Kumamoto fell below 50%.

The occupancy rate was highest in Okinawa at 81.7%, followed by Fukuoka at 81.3% and Saitama at 69.3%.

The rate for severely ill COVID-19 patients was at 64.2% in Okinawa and 61.1% in Osaka.

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