Japanese hospitals overwhelmed as nation tops 10,000 coronavirus cases

Japanese hospitals overwhelmed as nation tops 10,000 coronavirus cases

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Japan’s medical system faces a total collapse under the strain of coronavirus, doctors and experts warn.

The nation surpassed 10,000 cases Saturday with the spike in cases significant enough that hospitals have started to turn away new patients.

Japan Today reports that, in one case, an ambulance carrying a man with COVID-19 symptoms had to search for hours to find an available hospital. The ambulance found a downtown Tokyo hospital that could treat the patient after 80 other hospitals rejected him.

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Overwhelmed hospitals are unable to accept patients for even the most life-threatening issues, including stroke and heart attack, the report says.

About two weeks ago, the Japan Times ran an article questioning how ready the nation’s hospital system would be for the rising pandemic. The article cited that cases had “quadrupled” over 10 days leading into April.

“In many ways, hospitals in Tokyo are not prepared for that situation,” said Koji Wada, a professor in public health at the International University of Health and Welfare and a member of the government’s expert panel on COVID-19.

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Wada went on to tell the Times that health workers were suffering from exhaustion and hospitals would struggle to handle a significant increase in patients. He suggested that financial incentives would be needed to encourage private hospitals and nondesignated medical facilities to take in COVID-19 patients.

The Asahi Shimbun wrote up a timeline of events, which details that by March 28, “all beds at designated medical institutions for specified infectious diseases were full.”

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On April 15, hospitals set up large tents to serve as an intake for new coronavirus patients, but it appears that they are not equipped to handle any emergency patients.

“We are simply a base hospital serving local communities,” said Takahiro Okai, 57, an assistant director of Kawakita General Hospital. “I don’t know how long we can survive and keep fulfilling our new role. We are in an uncharted territory, and it’s scary.”

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As of Sunday morning, Japan had 10,437 confirmed coronavirus cases and 224 deaths.

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