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Over 60% of fire departments in major cities across Japan have received from prefectural governments lists of medical institutions that accept pregnant COVID-19 patients, it has been learned.

According to a survey conducted by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency asking 52 fire departments about the ambulance transportation of pregnant women who have been infected with the novel coronavirus, 34 such organizations said that prefectural governments had shared such lists with them.

The central government agency hopes the information sharing will allow ambulance crew members to contact medical institutions without having to go through public health centers, helping to ensure such patients can be transported to hospitals swiftly.

In August this year, a pregnant woman with COVID-19 gave birth at home in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, after several hospitals refused to admit her. The newborn died soon after.

Following the incident, the agency and the health ministry together requested on Aug. 23 that prefectural governments create and share with local fire departments lists of medical institutions that would accept pregnant COVID-19 patients.

According to the survey, 34 fire departments had been given the lists by prefectural governments as of Sept. 13, and 10 were planning to obtain them in the near future.

The remaining eight fire departments said they had not been given access to the lists, explaining that there were no concerns over any disruption of emergency transport as prefectural governments and other bodies were already coordinating with hospitals so that pregnant COVID-19 patients could be admitted.

Of the 34 fire departments that have the lists, 10 said prefectural governments had also been sharing with them the latest updates on hospital bed availability at the listed medical institutions.

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