Homebound virus patients top 30,000 amid hospital bed shortage in Japan
TOKYO. KAZINFORM - The number of coronavirus patients recuperating at home in Japan reached 30,208 this week, the health ministry said Saturday, Kyodo reports.
The figure as of Wednesday was 1.7 times that of the previous week as the country faces a third wave of novel coronavirus infections.
The figure compares to 14,806 hospitalized patients, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
The number of prefectures where the bed occupancy situation has reached Stage 4, the worst level on the government's four-point scale, is now at 19, up eight from last week.
Tokyo has the largest number of homebound patients with 8,518, up over 3,000 from a week earlier, and the total number of cases in the Tokyo metropolitan area, including Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures, is around 20,000.
Osaka, Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures have reported over 2,000 cases as of Jan. 13.
The situation poses a challenging task to health authorities in terms of keeping a check on patients in the event of a sudden deterioration in their condition.
The Tokyo metropolitan government on Wednesday reported the deaths of two COVID-19 patients -- a man in his 80s and a woman in her 50s -- who were recuperating at home.
Similar cases were also reported recently in Kanagawa and Hiroshima prefectures.
The government advises patients suffering no or mild symptoms to stay at home or in a designated hotel to free up hospital beds for those with severe conditions.
However, homebound patients are now believed to be a major factor in the recent rise of infections nationwide.
A state of emergency, under which people are urged to refrain from going out and restaurants asked to shorten their opening hours, took effect in the Tokyo metropolitan area last week and has since been expanded to Osaka and nine other prefectures.
On Friday, Japan confirmed over 7,100 new cases of infection, compared with around 6,600 the previous day.