TOKYO: The ongoing Tokyo Olympics are posing additional challenges for local medical workers, who have already been overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Some hospitals are dispatching personnel to the Olympic medical team while treating COVID-19 patients and administering vaccines. One medical worker said, “I’d say the health care system is already collapsing.”
Motoshi Mashiko, head of administration at Tachikawa Sogo Hospital, said that its workers “are trying hard with a sense of mission but are exhausted.”
The hospital admitted over 50 COVID-19 patients in July. Its beds for COVID-19 patients have been full since July 21 and the hospital has recently refused to admit some patients.
It plans to add beds. “We don’t want to see people who want to be hospitalized but can’t in this region,” Mashiko said.
The hospital has had a message on the wall since April, saying that the medical system is reaching full capacity and calling for the Olympics to be canceled.
“The government should cancel the Olympics even from now to protect people’s lives,” Mashiko said.
Showa University Hospital has sent personnel to the Olympic medical squad. “We will have to stop admitting emergency patients if COVID-19 cases rise further,” Hironori Sagara, director of the hospital, said.
“It’s important to correctly recognize what’s happening and what’s needed, instead of averting responsibility,” Sagara said, referring to senior Japanese government and International Olympic Committee officials who repeatedly claim that there is no link between the surge in COVID-19 cases and the Tokyo Olympics.
Sagara called for people to take basic precautions including avoiding contact with others and wearing masks.