Japan's health ministry will likely recommend that prefectural governments set criteria for hospitalizing coronavirus patients as part of efforts to ease the increasing burden on medical institutions.
As an example, the ministry referred to a system to be adopted by the Kanagawa prefectural government later this month. The prefecture had 13,125 confirmed cases as of Thursday, the third largest in the country following Tokyo and Osaka.
The initiative will allot points for factors such as age and underlying conditions that are thought to contribute to severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Patients with point totals above a certain level will be hospitalized first.
Patients with points below a certain threshold will have to stay at home or in designated facilities if doctors decide they do not need to be hospitalized.
It is estimated that the method can reduce the number of new hospitalizations to less than half the figure expected without the system.
The ministry will also ask prefectural governments to find rehabilitation facilities for those who meet criteria for being discharged from hospitals but cannot resume life at home due to reduced physical abilities.
The ministry's expert panel said on Thursday that medical facilities nationwide are under growing strain, due partly to the rising number of COVID-19 patients.
The panel added that it is becoming difficult for the institutions to balance coronavirus treatments and ordinary healthcare services.