- Title: Struggling with COVID wave, Tokyo doctors lead push against Games
- Date: 26th May 2021
- Summary: YOKOHAMA, KANAGAWA PREFECTURE, JAPAN (MAY 25, 2021) (REUTERS) ST. MARIANNA UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE DOCTOR, HIROKI SAITO ENTERING INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (ICU) SAITO LOOKING AT MONITOR SHOWING COVID-19 PATIENTS IN ICU MONITOR SHOWING COVID-19 PATIENTS SAITO LOOKING ON (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ST. MARIANNA UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE DOCTOR, HIROKI SAITO, SAYING: "(Coronavirus) variants existing in cities have placed strains on hospitals and that's happening in the Kanto region (the Greater Tokyo Area)." MEDICAL STAFF WEARING GREEN PPE IN ICU MEDICAL STAFF WEARING GREEN PPE PUTTING FACE MASK IN FRONT OF MIRROR MEDICAL STAFF IN LIME GREEN UNIFORM HANDING ITEMS TO STAFF WEARING GREEN PPE INSIDE RED ZONE MEDICAL STAFF WEARING GREEN PPE TAKING CARE OF COVID-19 PATIENT LYING IN BED BEHIND PLASTIC CURTAIN IN RED ZONE VENTILATOR HOOKED UP TO COVID-19 PATIENT LYING IN BED BEHIND PLASTIC CURTAIN COVID-19 PATIENT'S LEGS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ST. MARIANNA UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE DOCTOR, HIROKI SAITO, SAYING: "It is clear that the risk of becoming seriously ill (from variants), regardless of age or underlying disease, has increased over the past year. I wonder how much the general public is aware of this." SAITO STANDING AND TALKING TO MEDICAL STAFF WORKING IN ICU MEDICAL STAFF TALKING TO SAITO SAITO LISTENING TO MEDICAL STAFF MEDICAL STAFF WORKING IN ICU (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ST. MARIANNA UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE DOCTOR, HIROKI SAITO, SAYING: "I think it is difficult to achieve zero (new COVID) cases as a goal when the infection is spreading in different communities. In that sense, having a large-scale event would pose an inevitable risk (in terms of spreading infection)." SAITO CLOSING PLASTIC CURTAIN IN EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE ROOM VARIOUS OF SAITO CHECKING EQUIPMENT IN EMERGENCY ROOM BEHIND CURTAINS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ST. MARIANNA UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE DOCTOR, HIROKI SAITO, SAYING: "If the Olympic Games were to be held, and we were to receive a specific request to dispatch (our medical) personnel (to the Olympics), it is unclear how much effort and resources we would be able to spare for that." MEDICAL STAFF TALKING IN FRONT OF WHITE BOARD IN ICU WHITE BOARD SHOWING STATUS OF COVID-19 PATIENTS INSIDE ICU PEOPLE WALKING AND WAITING IN RECEPTION AREA IN HOSPITAL VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN RECEPTION AREA (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 36-YEAR-OLD OUTPATIENT, IPPEI TAKAHASHI, SAYING: "The coronavirus is still not completely under control, and people from all over the world will come and go (during the Tokyo Olympics). I think this will make the (coronavirus) spread not just in Japan but also all over the world. I think everyone in the world must come together and overcome (this problem)." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WAITING IN RECEPTION AREA (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 49-YEAR-OLD OUTPATIENT, NORIKO KUSANAGI, SAYING: "To be honest, if it's possible, I would like them to hold it (the Olympics). But is the current situation possible? What is the most important thing then? It's not the Olympics, is it? That's my honest opinion." PEOPLE AT ENTRANCE OF HOSPITAL EXTERIOR OF HOSPITAL
- Embargoed: 9th June 2021 09:59
- Keywords: COVID-19 ICU Japan Olympic Games Olympics Paralympics Tokyo Tokyo 2020 Yokohama coronavirus hospital frontline pandemic variant
- Location: YOKOHAMA, KANAGAWA PREFECTURE, JAPAN
- City: YOKOHAMA, KANAGAWA PREFECTURE, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Asia / Pacific,Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA001EELJM87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: When Hiroki Saito took over the intensive-care ward on Tuesday (May 25) morning, room No. 8 at the end of its cordoned-off section had been cleaned, locked up, and a ventilator beaming red light set in motion to disinfect the air.
A 79-year-old patient had died there that morning.
The U.S.-educated doctor has overseen a heavy load of COVID-19 cases at St. Marianna University Yokohama Seibu Hospital during the pandemic, including the current fourth wave of infections, which has forced Japan's capital and several other areas into another state of emergency.
With less than two months until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics get underway, doctors like Saito, as well as nurses and public health experts, have become one of the most outspoken groups voicing their concerns about the Games, saying the event would put the public at risk and further strain the healthcare system.
"It is difficult to achieve zero (new COVID) cases as a goal when the infection is spreading in different communities. In that sense, having a large-scale event would pose an inevitable risk," said Saito.
Poll after poll has shown the majority of the public is opposed to holding the Games this summer, concerned about tens of thousands of athletes and officials descending on a country that has mostly remained closed to foreigners since last year and where vaccinations have proceeded slowly. On Wednesday (May 26), the Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the event, published an editorial calling for the Games to be cancelled.
Much of the country, including host city Tokyo, remains under a third state of emergency that is widely expected to be extended beyond this month.
Just over 5% of the nation has received vaccinations, and it has recorded about 719,000 infections and 12,394 deaths.
Some medical officials and local governors have balked at the request by the Olympic organizing committee to provide nurses and secure hospital beds for the event.
Saito's hospital has not received a request by the Olympic organizer to provide medical assistance, but he worries how the hospital will cope with the matter, if they do.
The postponed Tokyo Games are scheduled to start on July 23.
(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Rikako Maruyama, Akiko Okamoto)
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