Cases of COVID-19 among children have been increasing in Tokyo, experts have warned, even as total cases continue to decline.
The proportion of people under age 20 among all new cases in Tokyo has risen for five straight weeks, according to data presented Thursday at a Tokyo Metropolitan Government meeting covering the coronavirus situation. “Tokyo remains in a state of medical emergency,” a participating expert said.
In Tokyo, the seven-day average of new infection cases stood at 1,985.7 as of Wednesday, falling some 60% from the peak level three weeks before. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients totaled 4,008, down from 4,271 from a week before, and that of those with severe symptoms came to 252, down from 286.
The number of coronavirus patients self-isolating at home or waiting to be hospitalized stood at some 16,000. Nine fatalities among nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients were reported in the past week.
The share of people under 20 accounted for 12.1% of new cases in Tokyo in the week to Aug. 2. But the proportion has risen to 19.1%, apparently due to an increase in cases where children contracted the virus at nurseries and after-school facilities, and through club activities at school. Only people 12 and over are eligible to receive shots by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., which make up the bulk of Japan’s vaccine campaign.
Norio Omagari of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine said, “We are concerned that pediatric cases may grow further as children have more opportunities to contact (friends and others) following the start of the new school term.”
“Although September is a good season for travel, I want people to refrain from going out for nonessential purposes for now,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at the meeting.
Also at the meeting, it was reported that the number of hospital beds in Tokyo for COVID-19 patients is projected to rise to 6,651 at the end of this month from 5,967 as of Aug. 23, when the metropolitan and central governments requested medical institutions to provide more beds for such patients. The estimated total includes 503 set aside for severely ill patients, up from 392.
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