TOKYO, Japan — Japan’s health ministry and the Tokyo metropolitan government on Monday directed hospitals in the capital to secure beds and accept as many COVID-19 patients as possible amid pressure on the city’s medical system in a recent resurgence of infections.
As record numbers of COVID-19 cases have been logged in the capital city in recent weeks, Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held a meeting and decided to take tougher measures on medical institutions by making the first such request to the hospitals under a revised infectious disease law.
Under the revised law, the ministry and Tokyo government can expose the names of hospitals that did not comply with the request in securing beds with no valid reason such as lack of medical staff.
“Infections driven by the Delta variant are unlike anything we have seen before,” Tamura said.
“I would like to ask for (the hospitals’) help to get through this difficult situation,” he said.
To further relieve stress on hospitals in Tokyo, the metropolitan government on Monday started operating a facility to provide oxygen support to COVID-19 patients with relatively mild symptoms.
Set up by the metropolitan government in the capital’s Shibuya Ward, the 24-hour oxygen station has 130 beds and is staffed by three doctors and 25 nurses.
Tamura and Koike also decided to ask hospitals, universities with medical departments and nursing schools to send out staff to help COVID-19 patients at facilities such as an oxygen station.