Many patients are dying at home. The Tokyo area is among the most affects. Contagions increased sevenfold after the summer holidays. Vaccinations will only start in late February. Several prefectures lack staff to carry out the immunisation campaign. Fears are growing over the fate of the Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) – More than 15,000 COVID-19 patients are on waiting lists for hospitalisation or accommodation in other facilities. One consequence is that more and more people are dying at home, Kyodo News reported today.
The surge in cases over the last month is putting a strain on Japan’s health system, which lacks hospital enough beds to deal with the pandemic emergency.
After the novel coronavirus outbreak began a year ago, the Japanese government never imposed a full lockdown. Today 11 prefectures are in a state of emergency.
A recent survey shows that Tokyo had the most infected people waiting to be hospitalised or accommodated at other facilities, up 4.8 times from 1,563 on 19 December to 7,539 today. Three prefectures – Saitama, Chiba, and Osaka – are also hard pressed.
Currently, Japan has reported 360,000 cases with more than 5,000 deaths.
A study by Kyoto University released last Thursday shows that infections increased sevenfold after the government launched an aid plan to promote domestic tourism in July.
In the meantime, the vaccination campaign is set to start only in late February. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his government are still verifying the safety and efficacy of vaccines. A coronavirus vaccination simulation will be carried out this Wednesday in Kawasaki, near Tokyo.
The authorities are waiting for the arrival of 310 million vaccine doses from US companies Pfizer and Moderna, as well as the UK’s AstraZeneca.
A recent Kyodo News poll found that 80 per cent of Japan’s 47 prefectural capitals view securing enough medical personnel for vaccination as a challenge.
The gradual increase in the positivity rate is raising concerns over the fate of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. According to estimates, postponing the Games by one year has already cost the country 640 billion yen (US$ 5.9 billion).