Japan’s COVID-19 cases spike, medical system overwhelmed

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Xinhua News

19th August 2022 – (Tokyo) Japan recorded more than 6 million new COVID-19 cases in the past month, with more than 200 daily deaths on nine of the 11 days through Thursday, which has further strained its medical system fuelled by the seventh wave of infections.

The country logged a record daily high of 255,534 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the second time that the number of newly cases exceeded 250,000 in a single day since the pandemic hit the country. A total of 287 people were reported dead, bringing the total death toll to 36,302.

Japan reported 1,395,301 cases in the week from Aug. 8 to Aug. 14, the highest number of new cases in the world for the fourth week in a row, followed by South Korea and the United States, local media Kyodo News reported, citing the latest weekly update on coronavirus of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Many local residents with mild infections are quarantined at home, while those reporting serious symptoms are struggling for hospitalization.

According to Japan’s health ministry, more than 1.54 million infected people nationwide were quarantined at home as of Aug. 10, the highest number since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Hospital bed occupancy rate is rising in Japna, said the country’s public broadcaster NHK, citing government statistics that as of Monday, the COVID-19 bed use rate was 91 percent in Kanagawa Prefecture, 80 percent in Okinawa, Aichi and Shiga prefectures, and 70 percent in Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Shizuoka prefectures.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government announced on Monday that its COVID-19 bed occupancy rate was about a seemingly less serious of 60 percent. However, many local medical workers are infected or have become close contacts, resulting in a shortage of medical staff.

Masataka Inokuchi, vice chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association, said Monday that the rate of COVID-19 bed occupancy in Tokyo is “approaching its limit.”

In addition, 14 medical institutions in Kyoto Prefecture, including the Kyoto University Hospital, issued a joint statement on Monday saying that the pandemic has reached a very serious level, and the COVID-19 beds in Kyoto Prefecture are essentially saturated.

The statement warned that Kyoto Prefecture is in a state of medical collapse where “lives that could have been saved cannot be saved.”

The statement also called on the public to avoid non-emergency and unnecessary travels and continue to be vigilant and take routine precautions, adding that infection with the novel coronavirus is “by no means a simple cold-like illness.”

Despite the severity of the seventh wave and the soaring number of new cases, the Japanese government has not adopted stricter prevention measures. The recent Obon holiday also saw a large flow of tourists – highways congested, Shinkansen bullet trains full and domestic airline occupancy rate returned to about 80 percent of the pre-COVID-19 level.

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