Cases in Okinawa Surge: “500-800 new cases per week going forward” predicted, hospital bed utilization exceeds 100% in Chubu, Main Island

Cases in Okinawa Surge: “500-800 new cases per week going forward” predicted, hospital bed utilization exceeds 100% in Chubu, Main Island

Governor Denny Tamaki asks Okinawans for additional cooperation with measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. (January 14, Prefectural Office, photograph by a representative)

January 15, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


On January 14, Governor Denny Tamaki held an emergency press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Office. He shared that cases of the novel coronavirus in Okinawa are increasing, mostly in young people, and that estimates suggest that the prefecture is likely to see 500 to 800 new cases per week going forward. Furthermore, general hospital bed utilization has exceeded 100% in Chubu on the Main Island, where coronavirus patients are being admitted. The governor asked that people refrain from non-essential, non-urgent travel between Okinawa and the prefectures included in the national state of emergency announcement, both the initial four prefectures and the seven prefectures, including Osaka, that were later added.


Tamaki indicated that the prefecture plans to allow the professional baseball camps that will be held in various parts of Okinawa starting in February. However, he asked that spectators from the prefectures under emergency measures stay home during this period.


“During the New Year’s holiday, more people from other prefectures came to Okinawa for parties or to visit relatives. There is concern that coming-of-age ceremonies over the three-day weekend may also contribute to increased case numbers in the future,” Tamaki said.


On whether he would ask the national government to announce a state of emergency for Okinawa, the governor only said, “we have to make that decision after having a complete understanding of the situation.”


The governor explained that there were instances of individuals not doing their part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Specific examples that have led to strings of new infections include (1) declining hospitalization or not taking time to recuperate despite having tested positive at a testing facility, (2) going out despite having been determined by a health center to have been in close contact with an infected person, (3) going on a trip or to a gathering despite feeling sick, and (4) stores not complying with requests for shortened hours of operation.


Tamaki emphasized that “if we are not able to slow the spread of the virus, Okinawa prefecture will have to adopt stricter measures and restrictions.”


At the beginning of the press conference, Doctor Yoshihiro Takayama, who works in infectious diseases in internal medicine at Chubu Hospital and is a member of Okinawa’s Expert Meeting, explained the current situation. “Okinawa is about to see a surge in cases. We have to beat it back without hesitation. If we put it off, we will only miss our chance to act. We are asking what young people, especially, can do to help contain the spread of the virus.”

(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)


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