More people dying of Covid-19 at home in Osaka

TOKYO: A growing number of Japanese people are dying of Covid-19 at home as more infectious variants fuel a fourth wave of infections and hospital resources are stretched to the verge of collapse.

"Compared with the number of infections, the number of beds for severe cases is very limited in Japan," Professor Yasutoshi Kido at Osaka City University's Graduate School of Medicine said yesterday.

Eighteen people have died of Covid-19 at home in Osaka prefecture, 17 of them since March 1, as highly infectious strains of the virus caused a spike in cases, the prefecture said late on Monday, reporting deaths outside hospital for the first time.

Officials did not give details of why the 18 people had not been admitted, but news of their deaths came as more than 96 per cent of the prefecture's critical care beds are occupied.

Prof Kido said hospitals in Osaka were turning away cancer and heart disease patients to make room for Covid-19 cases, but their ability to reallocate resources had "almost collapsed".

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said in light of the deaths at home amid the shortage of hospital beds, he had asked the medical association to arrange visits to house-bound patients.

The western region has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus and has become the epicentre of cases caused by a variant first identified in Britain that is more infectious and causes more serious conditions.

Osaka had 974 new cases yesterday while Tokyo had 925. - REUTERS