Controversy in Japan over new Covid-19 hospital policy

Tokyo, Aug 4 (EFE).- Japan’s new health policy allowing only severe Covid-19 patients to be hospitalized, due to the record rise in virus infections, was generating widespread criticism Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said this policy will continue despite controversy, adding it will apply only to Tokyo, where there is a “drastic expansion of infections” despite the current state of health emergency, in statements to local media.

Tokyo registered 4,166 infections Wednesday, a new record rise since the start of the pandemic. Across the country, infections exceeded 14,000, also a record number.

Contagions have been on the rise in the capital since July, an evolution that continued during the scaled-down Tokyo Olympics.

The trend is particularly worrying concerning the virus’ delta variant, which according to Japanese authorities’ estimates represents about 90 percent of new infections.

The government decided Monday that the country’s hospitals would only admit patients with severe symptoms of Covid-19, given the increasing pressure suffered by medical centers due to the rise of the virus.

The move drew an avalanche of criticism from the opposition, the executive’s coalition partner, Buddhist party Komeito, and even members of the ruling party, due to the risk that many patients could be deprived of medical care.

The government said its proposal is aimed at ensuring there are enough hospital places for patients suffering from more severe symptoms, while other patients with moderate or mild symptoms would have to recover at home and follow the advice of doctors.

Medical and political experts from Suga’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) have said these measures have not been properly explained to health professionals or the Japanese population for now.

Suga’s government, which is running out of options to try to contain the virus while the Tokyo Games are being held, plans to meet in coming days with the panel of medical specialists that advises it to discuss an increase in the emergency alert level in other regions of the country.

The Tokyo Olympics, which started on Jul. 23 and will end Sunday, are taking place under strict movement restrictions and the constant testing of all its participants, with a view to preventing infections within the bubble and avoiding contact with Japan’s population. EFE


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