• Kyodo

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A nationwide surge in new COVID-19 cases has forced 44% of hospitals that also offer advanced medical procedures to encounter difficulties providing patients with the treatment they need, a Kyodo News survey has found.

The survey, released Monday, found some hospitals that offer advanced treatments for patients with conditions difficult to treat at ordinary hospitals, such as cancer, have postponed surgeries for non-COVID-19 patients or limited their acceptance of emergency patients.

Japan has seen a resurgence in novel coronavirus infections since November. The findings in the survey, which was conducted in early December, highlight the degree of strain that has placed on the medical system.

Daily new infections nationwide set a record of 3,881 on Saturday, with Tokyo, the hardest-hit area among Japan’s 47 prefectures, logging its own highest daily count of 949 infections.

More than 224,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country overall, with over 3,300 deaths.

Among the responses, Hokkaido University Hospital said that when it sent nurses to care for COVID-19 patients, it needed to have other departments scale down their services. The University of Yamanashi Hospital said it had postponed scheduled surgeries.

Asked whether they have enough staff to treat novel coronavirus patients with severe symptoms, 53% said they faced a shortage of nurses while 44% said they lacked doctors.

Some 58% of the respondents said they did not intend to increase the number of beds made available for coronavirus patients, compared with 33% that said they were scheduled to or were considering increasing beds.

“Fatigue and stress on health care workers have started to exceed their limit,” Tokyo Medical and Dental University’s Medical Hospital wrote in its response. Another hospital said, “There are nurses who intend to quit because of anxiety and stress.”

All 87 advanced treatment hospitals nationwide were approached in the survey, and 45 gave valid responses.

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