National

Japan Coast Guard holds rescue drill in event of virus outbreak

Kyodo

The Japan Coast Guard held a drill Monday on a bay in western Japan to transport a ferry passenger suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus to the hospital as the country braces for a possible second wave of infections.

About 70 people, including members of the 5th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Kobe, local medical personnel and crew of the ferry, took part in the drill, amid rising concern over a resurgence of the pandemic in the country.

“It is a rare and valuable opportunity to monitor how a passenger is transferred from an actual passenger boat. We want to continue boosting our cooperation with the private sector,” said Osamu Sakata, who heads the rescue division of the regional headquarters.

The drill was conducted on the assumption that a man in his 70s developed symptoms such as fever and difficulty breathing while aboard the 15,897-ton ferry Hibiki sailing through Osaka Bay off the city of Izumiotsu.

After coast guard headquarters received an emergency call, a doctor and coast guard officers wearing protective gear, including goggles, gloves and masks, were dispatched to the ferry.

The doctor, wearing a face shield, conducted a medical examination on the patient in an isolated cabin, asking him whether he had taste disorders and other possible COVID-19 symptoms.

The coast guard officers then carried the patient on a stretcher to a patrol ship moored next to the ferry, which took him to a nearby port where an emergency rescue team awaited.

When a cluster of infections occurred aboard the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo in February, the Japan Coast Guard brought 10 infected patients ashore. In total, 712 people from the ship were found to be infected, of whom 13 died.

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