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Cases where the novel coronavirus has been acquired at a hospital have been increasing and consequently are starting to affect the treatment of diseases other than those caused by the virus.

Eiju General Hospital in Tokyo’s Taito Ward had seen 187 cases of the coronavirus and at least 24 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday, according to the metropolitan government. The hospital has suspended outpatient practices.

The virus has also spread to Keio University Hospital in the capital via a patient who was transported from Eiju.

Eiju is a core hospital in Taito with the largest number of beds in the ward, according to the local government. “Many local clinics refer patients to Eiju. The impact of the outbreak there has started to be felt,” a ward official said.

Taito will set up a joint council with medical personnel and others to discuss support for Eiju.

Nakano Egota Hospital in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward has also experienced a group infection among patients and doctors. Suspected in-hospital infections have also been found in other parts of Japan, including Kobe and Fukuoka.

In these cases, people were infected in places that supposedly had preventative measures in place against the coronavirus.

In the case of in-hospital infections at the National Hospital Organization’s Oita Medical Center in the city of Oita, there is a possibility that people were infected while in a staff lounge.

In the staff lounge, many staff members tend to remove their face masks, and it is also suspected that infections occurred through medical equipment, door handles and other parts of the hospital that may have been touched by an unknown number of people.

“While countermeasures had been introduced, it was difficult to completely prevent infections,” an Oita prefectural official said.

Hiroyuki Kunishima, professor of infectious diseases at the St. Marianna University School of Medicine, said that basic measures, including hand sanitizing, wearing face masks and ventilation, are vital in preventing nosocomial infection.

It is hard to completely eliminate nosocomial transmission as people can get infected without them knowing, for example from asymptomatic patients, Kunishima said, stressing the importance of preventing the spread of the virus.

Kunishima said that if an in-hospital infection occurs at a hospital in a region with few hospitals, it should persist with providing service in order to maintain a local health care system. Society needs to accept such a move, he said.

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