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(Update) Coronavirus Cases Spreading at Faster Pace in Japan: Panel

(Update) Coronavirus Cases Spreading at Faster Pace in Japan: Panel

   Tokyo, Nov. 19 (Jiji Press)--The spread of novel coronavirus infections is picking up pace in Japan, and the situation remains severe, a health ministry advisory board on the epidemic said Thursday.
   In the day's meeting to assess the virus situation in the country, the panel of experts, chaired by Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, warned that if the situation is left untouched, a more rapid spread of the virus would be possible.
   Infections are increasing markedly in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Kansai western region including Osaka Prefecture and the Chubu central region including Aichi Prefecture, the board said. The situation is particularly severe in Hokkaido, with more and more hospital beds for coronavirus patients being occupied mainly in its capital, Sapporo, it said, adding that strong measures, such as reducing interpersonal contact and imposing behavioral restrictions, should be sought in some areas.
   "The situation surrounding medical institutions would become tougher (nationwide) unless the pace of infections is reduced," Wakita told a press conference. "We should aim to improve the infection situation toward the end of the year," he added.
   The estimated effective reproduction number, or the average number of people to whom an infected person transmits the virus, stood at 1.31 for the entire country as of Nov. 1, up from 1.18 as of Oct. 21, the advisory board said. A reading of 1.0 or higher indicates that infections are spreading. By prefecture, the figure came to 1.27 in Hokkaido as of Nov. 2, 1.86 in Tokyo, 1.30 in Aichi and 1.57 in Osaka.

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