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Coronavirus spreads in northeast Japan with record number of patients hospitalized

This 2019 file photo shows the Miyagi Prefectural Government headquarters. (Mainichi/Mayumi Otani)

SENDAI -- A record 191 patients were in hospital for the coronavirus in Miyagi Prefecture as of April 4, filling 68% of the prefecture's 281 hospital beds reserved for COVID-19 patients.

    According to the prefectural government's health and welfare department, the occupancy rate of hospital beds in the Sendai medical area has reached 94%. The number of patients receiving treatment at home or in accommodation facilities reached a record high of 233 and 457, respectively. In addition, 636 patients were in the process of adjusting their places of hospitalization or treatment.

    In response to the surge in infections, "priority measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus" are active in the prefecture from April 5 to May 5. Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai has asked all restaurants in Sendai to shorten their business hours to 8 p.m., and the prefecture's own emergency declaration issued on March 18 has been extended until May 5. Outside of Sendai, the prefecture has also asked restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages and provide entertainment to close their doors by 9 p.m.

    The number of infected people in the prefecture has been increasing rapidly since March, and on April 4, 80 men and women, ranging in age from preschool to those in their 90s, were newly confirmed to be infected, bringing the total to 6,503. On the same day, the prefecture also announced the death of a COVID-19 patient who had been hospitalized, bringing the total number of deaths to 33.

    In response to pressure on the medical system, the prefectural government has asked sports facilities in Sendai, other than restaurants, to shorten their working hours in line with the priority measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

    On April 4, the professional baseball team Rakuten Eagles announced that it would stop selling advance tickets at 9 p.m. on April 5 for games to be held at its home stadium, Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, from April 9 to May 2. It was also decided that food and beverages served inside the stadium will be sold until 8 p.m. and liquor sales will end at 7 p.m. A spokesperson for Rakuten said that they are "discussing with relevant parties" whether to move up the starting time of night games, as they are required to shorten the total game time to 8 p.m.

    (Japanese original by Ami Jinnai, Sendai Bureau)

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