The coronavirus surge in Osaka Prefecture is overwhelming medical resources, with hospitals turning away patients who then spend hours in ambulances waiting for a bed. In one case, the wait was 47 hours.

Osaka reported 1,171 new cases and a record 44 deaths Thursday. Concerned about Osaka’s predicament, the governors of Tokyo and Aichi have pitched the idea of transferring Osaka patients by helicopter to their hospitals, reports Eric Johnston. But the Osaka governor says he has a better suggestion.

Meanwhile, business leaders and a Nobel Prize-winning biologist have called upon the government to reform its sluggish vaccination program, including by allowing drive-thru jabs, as Japan struggles to contain a resurgence of the pandemic.

[In Japanese] Osaka: Record 44 daily deaths. But amid the rain, arcade is packed | TBS NEWS
[In Japanese] Osaka: Record 44 daily deaths … but amid the rain, arcade is packed | TBS NEWS

One process that is about to get a shot in the arm is the analysis of coronavirus variants, which is ever more crucial as mutant strains multiply across the globe.

Conventional analysis can take months, but Japanese researchers say their new approach can shorten that time to two weeks. In a fight where knowing the ever-shifting enemy is half the battle, could this be a game-changer?

Yesterday’s (and last Thursday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (100 or over): Osaka 1,171 (1,167), Tokyo 1,027 (861), Hyogo 534 (547), Aichi 430 (294), Fukuoka 337 (268), Saitama 256 (233), Kanagawa 255 (318), Hokkaido 234 (153), Chiba 152 (141), Kyoto 136 (148). Source: NHK