The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to scale down its contact-tracing program for identifying people who may have had close contact with those infected with the new coronavirus.

The metropolitan government last Tuesday notified public health care centers in the capital of the decision.

The move, aimed at reducing health care center workloads amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases, calls for allowing them to focus on helping patients receive appropriate medical care quickly by assessing their conditions and the risks of symptoms becoming serious, metropolitan government officials said.

The notification said that the contact-tracing program, or active epidemiological investigations, should be conducted in an effective and efficient way, targeting medical institutions and facilities for elderly people, who have a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, the officials said.

In Tokyo, the number of COVID-19 patients resting at home, including those waiting to be hospitalized or treated at other facilities, stood above 35,000 as of Sunday, putting health care centers under strain.

Amid surging COVID-19 cases, the Tokyo government has decided to “set priorities on tasks handled by health care centers,” a metropolitan government official said.

“A very large number of people have tested positive for the virus, and severely ill coronavirus patients are also increasing,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told reporters Sunday, adding that the situation is “at a disaster level.”

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