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More people dying at home from Covid-19 in Japan as hospitals struggle to cope

More people dying at home from Covid-19 in Japan as hospitals struggle to cope
The Japanese prefecture of Osaka has reported a surge in the number of people dying at home from Covid-19 as hospital bed occupancy rates reach 96% and capacity to care for the seriously ill becomes stretched.

“Compared to the number of infections, the number of beds for severe cases is very limited in Japan,” Yasutoshi Kido, a professor at Osaka City University’s Graduate School of Medicine, told Reuters on Tuesday. 

Kido said that hospitals in Osaka were turning away patients with serious illnesses to make way for people suffering with Covid-19. He claimed that the capacity to reallocate resources had “almost collapsed.”

On Monday, Osaka Prefecture reported the number of people who have died outside of hospital for the first time. Officials said that 18 people had succumbed to the virus at home, 17 of them since March 1.

The officials did not say why the patients had not been in hospital, but the announcement came as more than 96% of the prefecture’s critical care beds were occupied. 

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Hirofumi Yoshimura, the governor of Osaka, told a press conference that he had asked health authorities to arrange visits to house-bound patients as news of the home deaths emerged.

While Japan has taken numerous emergency measures to slow the spread of the virus in recent months, particularly as more contagious strains became more prevalent, the country has registered case levels far below those seen elsewhere in the world.

To date, the country has registered 640,000 infections and just under 11,000 deaths, approximately 12 times less than the UK, which has almost half its population. 

Japan also boasts the highest number of hospital beds per capita, according to World Bank data.

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