Japan Healthcare System Strained, Patients Starting to Get Turned Away

Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said that the country’s hospitals have faced challenges in accepting emergency patients for three straight weeks.

According to the agency, the delta variant in Japan drove new cases to more than 25,000 a day this month. This also increased the number of dispatched ambulances for medical emergencies which had trouble finding a hospital that will accept the patient. 

The agency defined these cases as instances where medics were turned down by more than 3 hospitals and stayed at the scene for more than 30 minutes. The figures for these instances surged to 3,361 from August 9 to 15 and slightly decreased last week but still remained the third-highest ever recorded in Japan. Around half of the patients were suspected of having COVID-19.  

The government has attempted to tackle the situation with strongly-worded requests to hospitals to accommodate patients. Japan’s top virus adviser, Norifumi Ninomiya, said on Thursday, August 26, that temporary hospitals may need to be built.

Ninomiya said in an email, “The COVID beds in my hospitals are almost constantly full. When we get a patient sent in from the public health center, they’re already in serious condition. We’re seeing an increase in patients that get worse and pass away despite treatment. These are lives that can be saved if they’re treated earlier.”

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