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The government will dispatch some 70 nurses from state-affiliated hospitals to Osaka Prefecture to help it treat coronavirus patients with severe symptoms, sources said Tuesday.

The nurses will work at a temporary facility set up in the city of Osaka last December to treat COVID-19 patients in a serious condition, the sources said. They will be dispatched as soon as preparations are made.

The number of severely ill coronavirus patients stood at 302 as of Monday, far more than the 254 hospital beds secured for such patients.

The Osaka Prefectural Government decided Tuesday to ask the central government to declare a fresh state of emergency in the prefecture, where new infection cases are surging.

Acting on a request from Osaka, the health ministry asked other ministries and agencies whether they can send nurses to the prefecture from affiliated hospitals.

The education ministry plans to dispatch a total of 35 nurses with relevant experience, such as those that have worked in intensive care units, from 22 university hospitals.

“It’s important to help each other by sending personnel to a place where people are having a hard time,” education minister Koichi Hagiuda told a news conference Tuesday.

At the same time, he said it is necessary to strike a balance between the primary role university hospitals are supposed to play, such as providing advanced medical services, and the roles they need to fulfill in a time of emergency.

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