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Tokyo raises COVID-19 alert to highest as medical crunch looms


TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese capital Tokyo, faced with acute strains on its medical system from the COVID-19 pandemic, raised its alert level to the highest of four stages on Thursday as the number of new cases spiked to a record daily high of 822.

A health official said it had become difficult to balance the care of COVID-19 patients with regular ones as hospital beds filled up, and a “red” alert for medical preparedness had been assigned for the first time.

“We fear a serious dysfunction of the medical system in two weeks, on December 31, if the number of new daily infections keeps growing at the current pace,” Masataka Inokuchi, vice chair of the Tokyo Medical Association, told a news conference attended by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

The metropolitan government in the city of 14 million people said the number of new coronavirus cases hit 822 on Thursday, surpassing the previous record of 678 reached a day earlier.

Tokyo issued a special coronavirus alert for the year-end and new year periods to raise public awareness, Koike said.

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