HOSPITALS in Japan are on the brink of collapse amid a huge influx of Covid cases – just eight weeks before the country is due to host the Olympics.
The hardest hit area is Japan’s western region, home to nine million residents – which accounted for a third of the country’s deaths in May, despite only making up just seven per cent of its population.
Yuji Tohda, the director of Kindai University Hospital in Osaka, issued a stark warning that “simply put, this is a collapse of the medical system.
“The highly infectious British variant and slipping alertness have led to this explosive growth in the number of patients.”
Caring for critically ill patients has also had a huge impact on those caring for them, according to
Satsuki Nakayama, the head of the nursing department at OMPUH.
“I’ve got some intensive care unit (ICU) staff saying they have reached a breaking point,” she added. “I need to think of personnel change to bring in people from other hospital wings.”
Yasunori Komatsu, who heads a union of regional government employees, said conditions were dire as well for public health nurses at local health centres.
“Some of them are racking up 100, 150, 200 hours of overtime, and that has been going on for a year now…when on duty, they sometimes go home at one or two in the morning, and go to bed only to be awakened by a phone call at three or four.”
It has ignited fears that the Olympics, due to be held in just two months, will put even more pressure on the buckling healthcare system.
“The Olympics should be stopped, because we already have failed to stop the flow of new variants from England, and next might be an inflow of Indian variants,” Akira Takasu, the head of emergency medicine at the Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University Hospital (OMPUH), said.