Asia Pacific

Japan asks Tokyo hospitals to accept more COVID-19 patients

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A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at St. Marianna Medical University Hospital in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan government appealed on Monday to hospitals in the capital to accept more COVID-19 patients as increasing infections has made it increasingly difficult to get access to care.

Fewer than one in 10 coronavirus patients is hospitalised in Tokyo, fuelling public frustration with the government's COVID-19 response and undermining voter support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. read more

"The Delta variant's strong infectiousness just isn't comparable to previous ones," said Health Minister Norihisa Tamura, as he stood with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

"We would like to have further support from the medical community to secure hospital beds for coronavirus patients."

This was the first time the national government had issued such a request based on the infectious diseases control law, Tamura said.

With infections showing no sign of slowing down, the government is considering expanding areas covered by state of emergency measures, the Kyodo news agency said. Emergency measures are now in force in 13 prefectures, including Tokyo.

While infection numbers in Japan have been setting daily records, the number of deaths per day has stayed at less than a quarter of the record 216 fatalities seen on May 18, as more people are vaccinated.

On Sunday, Japan reported 22,302 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka

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