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Tokyo ‘oxygen stations’ serve nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients

TOKYO >> The Tokyo government has plans to open three large oxygen therapy facilities to address hundreds of coronavirus patients at home whose conditions suddenly deteriorate.

The first facility was slated to open last week at the site of a former children’s recreation center in Shibuya ward, with a capacity to treat about 130 patients. Along with two other facilities, the “oxygen stations” will serve 400 patients and operate 24 hours a day.

The stations are intended for patients who request emergency transport and whose symptoms are judged by an emergency team to be relatively mild. Oxygen is administered to patients, and their blood oxygen levels are monitored. If doctors deem it necessary, patients are hospitalized.

Since July the Tokyo government has set up smaller oxygen stations for patients who have not been able to receive treatment at a hospital. But with the surge in infected people who recover at home, it decided to open larger-scale facilities.

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

“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,” said infectious-disease expert Tetsuya Matsumoto.

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