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Japan Medical Assoc. chief warns health system struggling amid virus 3rd wave

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mainichi– TOKYO — Due to a surge in coronavirus cases nationally, the health system in parts of Japan is already struggling to see patients with typical serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, according to a warning from Japan Medical Association (JMA) President Toshio Nakagawa at a Dec. 2 press conference.

In his remarks, Nakagawa said, “We’re already seeing some areas having difficulty receiving cases of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other normally occurring ailments,” and he indicated that the chances of a collapse in medical infrastructure are rising. He also reiterated the importance of thorough infection prevention measures including hand washing and mask wearing.

According to Nakagawa, recent data on those caught up in the third wave of coronavirus infections has shown a greater proportion of middle-aged and older people testing positive, and that this has led to a rise in serious cases. He added that if infections continue to increase at the rate they are now, “The system in place to protect the lives of this country’s people will fall apart, and there are already some areas where it is beginning to collapse.”

A senior official at the JMA said that issues accepting patients are starting to be seen in areas including Tokyo, Osaka Prefecture and Hokkaido.

Regarding the national government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s decision to review the “Go To Travel” campaign aimed at fueling demand for domestic tourism, Nakagawa said, “Go To became an opportunity for complacency. That’s why I’d like to appraise their decision.”

He also sounded caution in the event that infections do not slow, saying, “We’d enter the next phase. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for there to be a situation in which a state of emergency is declared once again.”

(Japanese original by Go Kumagai, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)