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Tokyo short on hotel rooms for coronavirus patients

TOKYO >> The number of people infected with COVID-19 is rapidly increasing in Tokyo — by Tuesday, there were more than 9,800 confirmed cases — causing a shortage of hotel rooms rented by the metropolitan government to accommodate those who are asymptomatic or have mild cases.

Confirmed daily cases have exceeded 100 for more than two weeks; on Friday, Tokyo hit a high of 293 cases. But as of July 16, only 100 hotel rooms were available, leading to an increase of hospital patients and those recuperating at home.

As of Tuesday, the number of hospital patients reached almost 680, an increase of more than 200 from the previous week.

“Pressure is starting to build (for) hospital beds,” said an official with the Tokyo Medical Association.

The metropolitan government plans to secure rooms at two more hotels.

Initially, the government arranged for five hotels to accommodate 1,200 patients. When the number of infected people temporarily decreased in May and June, the system was downsized.

Part of the rationale for sending infected people to hotels is medical care: Doctors make rounds at the hotels, while recuperating at home can pose a higher risk if symptoms suddenly worsen. In April, two people in Saitama Prefecture ill with COVID-19 died at home.

“Recovering in a hotel has the advantage of preventing infection among family members,” added Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association. “The metropolitan government should secure facilities as soon as possible.”

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