Japan doctors warn of health system ‘break down’ as cases surge

Japan doctors warn of health system 'break down' as cases surge
Japan intially cotrolled the virus, but has reported new wave of cases. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times, Tokyo: Japan’s doctors have warned that the country’s medical system could collapse while new wave of coronavirus cases are being reported.

Officials say emergency rooms have been unable to treat some patients with serious health conditions due to the extra burden caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier of the current pandemic, Japan appeared to have the virus under control. On Saturday, the confirmed cases in the country passed 10,000.

Capital Tokyo remains the worst-affected area of the country and more than 200 people died in the country so far.

Groups of doctors at GP surgeries in Tokyo are assisting hospitals with the testing of potential coronavirus patients so that it could be helpful to ease some of the pressure on the health system.

Konoshin Tamura, the deputy head of an association of GPs, said the move is to prevent the medical system from crumbling.

He said: “Everyone needs to extend a helping hand. Otherwise, hospitals would break down.”

The government is also trying to have a boost in testing by introducing drive-through facilities. Japan has conducted far fewer tests in recent weeks than in other countries and experts say this has made it more difficult to track the spread of the disease.

According to data from Oxford University, Japan has conducted just 16% of the number of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests last month that South Korea did.

Unlike South Korea, the Japanese government said that carrying out widespread testing was a “waste of resources”.

Testing is also governed by local health centers rather than the national government level, But some of these local centers are not equipped to carry out testing on a major scale.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated on Friday that the government was shifting its policy on testing and rolling it out more widely.

He told a news conference, “With help from regional medical associations, we will set up testing centers.”

He said: “If home doctors have decided testing is necessary, test samples are taken at these centers and sent to private inspection firms. Thus, the burden on public health centers will be lessened.”

His comments came shortly after he announced a nationwide state of emergency due to the worsening outbreak.

The decision allows regional governments to urge people to stay at home, but without punitive measures or legal force. It will remain in force until 6 May.

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