Today, January 7, the national government declared a second state of emergency for Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, including Kanagawa. While we have focused our efforts on prevention measures, with the cooperation of the national and prefectural governments as well as our city’s residents, and many health care personnel have worked through the year-end and new year without taking time off, we are once again faced with a dire situation and are made painfully aware of the difficulty of fighting this mysterious virus.
Currently, 28 people hospitalized in Yokohama are experiencing severe symptoms, a rate of 4%. A further 89, or 15%, display moderate symptoms, and the remaining 507, 81% of those hospitalized, show only mild or no symptoms. Of the 500 beds secured for patients to recover from moderate to severe symptoms, 179 hospital beds are in use: a 35.8% occupancy rate.
High-level health care providers in Yokohama have been coordinating to provide ample care for emergency patients and maintain a robust medical care system. While the number of patients requiring hospitalizations has increased, this coordinated effort and the work of Y-CERT have allowed us to ensure a medical care is allotted to both patients testing positive for the virus and for general care patients even during this crisis.
Today saw 156 new cases identified in the city. While that may seem low, the level of new cases continues to be high, with 1,173 cases in the last week. If this situation continues, the burden will intensify on our health care workers already giving it their all in the front lines against this virus. We must do whatever we can to suppress the spread of infections and maintain the medical care system. We must also work to achieve the conditions for the state of emergency to be lifted to help those businesses facing extremely difficult circumstances.
Based on the policies laid out by the national and Kanagawa governments, Yokohama will direct public facilities to close by 8 p.m. starting next week on January 12. Also, city-organized events will limit participants to half or less of the venue capacity, and to no more than 5,000 people.
Schools will not be temporarily closed, but preventive measures will be reinforced, and educational activities allowed to continue with strict attention paid to monitoring the health of students, faculty, and staff. Club activities and other events will be held after assessments on the risk of infection.
The Y-CERT special team that was mobilized for the year-end and New Year period will continue its work and doctors will remain on duty. The city will continue to work with its local health care providers and the Kanagawa Prefectural Government to maintain the medical care system. A vaccine support team will also be set up at the Health and Social Welfare Bureau to provide a steady supply of vaccinations that will help save lives. In the days ahead, personnel from our headquarters and various departments will be assigned to assist the care systems.
To all city departments: make your preparations and demonstrate leadership to help us put a stop to further infections. Make use of all opportunities or tools to raise awareness and make calls for residents as well as businesses and their related organizations and industries to fully understand and cooperate with the objectives of the state of emergency declaration.
In addition, take the lead in reinforcing infection prevention measures at facilities run by your offices, and based on your individual situations, implement remote working, use staggered commuting, rotate lunch scheduling, and refrain from communal dining.
To fully stop the spread of infection, it is of the upmost importance for each person to remain vigilant and ensure preventive measures are in place to curb the occurrence of new cases.
I once again call on our residents: please refrain from nonessential and non-urgent outings, especially after 8 p.m., to reduce the chance of contact with others. Avoid the five situations where the risk of infection is high, such as social gatherings involving alcohol, meals with many people or that last a long time, conversations without masks on, staying together in small areas, and when entering common rooms, smoking rooms, or changing rooms. Please also make use of remote working or staggered commuting hours. When indoors, observe basic preventive measures to avoid the “3 C’s,” ventilate rooms, wear masks, and wash hands and use disinfectants.
I also call on our local businesses: please cooperate with the policies outlined by the national and prefectural governments, such as shortening business hours to 8 p.m. at eating and drinking establishments and observing restrictions on holding events. Please refer to the guidelines for each industry and thoroughly implement infection prevention measures. Please also consider implementing remote working and staggered commuting and lunch hours to help reduce the number of staff in offices by 70% as well as the chance of contact with others when traveling.
The City of Yokohama will continue to coordinate with the national and prefectural governments, as well as our local medical institutions, to protect the lives and livelihoods of all our residents. Join our efforts and help us overcome this difficult situation together, to achieve the lifting of the state of emergency and the return to our everyday lives as soon as possible. Thank you.