Japan ready to admit 37,000 COVID-19 patients to hospitals

Tokyo (Jiji Press) — Japan is ready to admit some 37,000 COVID-19 patients to hospitals, marking an increase of about 10,000 during the peak of the fifth infection wave this summer, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The increase came after prefectural governments worked to increase the availability of hospital beds to prepare for a possible sixth wave.

The result means that the country has achieved a goal set under the central government’s COVID-19 response policy unveiled in November.

Around 2,000 hospitals across the country are ready to send over around 3,000 doctors and as many nurses to other facilities.

Public health care centers are able to get in touch with patients being treated at home on the day or the day after they tested positive for the coronavirus and monitor their health.

Prefectural government employees and hospital staff will be sent over to those health care centers, depending on the infection situation, with the number of people working at such facilities expected to triple from that under normal circumstances.

Many COVID-19 patients died at home during the fifth wave as hospitals were unable to admit them.

In response, the central government in October asked prefectures to review their plans on securing medical systems to ensure that they respond to a situation in which the virus spreads twice faster than this summer’s pace.

Those plans will be subject to change if there are any changes in the infection situation, health minister Shigeyuki Goto told a press conference, referring to confirmed cases in Japan of the omicron coronavirus variant.