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Tokyo to establish ‘oxygen stations’ to treat coronavirus patients


The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to open oxygen therapy facilities in an attempt to cope with the rising number of coronavirus patients recuperating at home whose condition suddenly deteriorates.

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The first facility will open as early as next week at the site of a former children’s recreation center in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, with a capacity to treat about 130 patients. There are plans for two more, with the aim of reaching a capacity for 400 patients at three locations.

According to the metropolitan government and other sources, the three “oxygen stations” will mainly accept patients who have requested emergency transport while recuperating at home, and whose symptoms are judged to be relatively mild by the emergency team.

Oxygen will be administered to patients and their blood oxygen levels will be checked at the facilities, which will operate 24 hours a day. If the condition of the patients improves, they will be allowed to return home. If doctors deem it necessary, patients will be hospitalized.

Beds, medical equipment and partitions will be installed at the site of the former children’s recreation center, which the metropolitan government acquired from the central government in 2019. The facility will start accepting patients as early as next week.

Since July, the metropolitan government has set up facilities to administer oxygen and provide other medical treatment to patients who have not been able to receive treatment at a hospital, with a total capacity to handle 50 patients at 11 hospitals.

As of Tuesday, the number of people recuperating at home in Tokyo surged to 22,164, more than eight times the number a month ago.

The metropolitan government has decided to urgently strengthen measures as seven patients recuperating at home have died this month.

It plans to secure 80 beds at public and private hospitals to administer oxygen to patients with moderate symptoms.

“The situation is truly a disaster. We are considering it a medical emergency and will establish a response system to tackle the problem,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday evening.

“Considering there have been difficulties finding hospitals for severe patients in recent months, it is significant that large-scale oxygen stations will be set up at three locations,” said Tetsuya Matsumoto, professor at the International University of Health and Welfare and an expert on infectious diseases.

“In addition to setting up more stations, it is necessary to secure hospitals for patients whose symptoms have worsened. The government should consider establishing such facilities as soon as possible in areas outside of Tokyo where infections are spreading, to ensure medical services in those areas can be maintained.”

Published : August 19, 2021

By : The Japan News/ANN