64 patients dead in 199-case COVID cluster at Okinawa hospital


mainichi– A 199-case coronavirus cluster has hit a hospital in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, with 64 patients succumbing to COVID-19 in only a month, inquiries to the prefectural government and hospital have revealed.

Of the 199 people confirmed with COVID-19 at Uruma Kinen Hospital in Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, 173 were hospitalized patients, and 26 were employees. According to the Okinawa Prefectural Government, about 270 patients, including those with dementia and mental disorders, had been admitted to the hospital, and over half of them were infected with the coronavirus. Although the prefectural government has dispatched doctors and nurses to the hospital, and treatment is being undertaken mainly within the facility, the number of deaths has been increasing. A representative at the hospital commented, “We’re deeply sorry about the situation.”

The infections occurred at the hospital in mid-July, and spread across multiple wards. It set up an anti-coronavirus headquarters after the first cases were reported. The hospital also received guidance from doctors outside the facility and other external parties, and took measures to prevent the spread of infections, such as dividing areas within hospital wards into zones and separating infected individuals from non-infected patients. However, it appears that cases stemming from the more infectious Delta variant, spread throughout the hospital. Though the facility said that many of the patients are elderly individuals, only around 20% had received their second vaccine shot. The process is apparently requiring time as the hospital needs to check with family and take other measures regarding vaccinations.

There have been patients who died at a separate medical institution following their transfer after they developed severe symptoms, as well as those who died at Uruma Kinen Hospital. Okinawa Prefecture’s new infection figures per unit of population are the worst in Japan, and the health care system has also been strained. According to the hospital, there have also been cases where patients’ transfers could not be arranged. The facility also revealed that it originally had many patients with underlying diseases who were highly prone to develop serious cases.

(Japanese original by Takayasu Endo, Naha Bureau, and Shinnosuke Kyan, Kyushu Photo Department)