Okinawa hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients

The surge of coronavirus infections in Okinawa is overwhelming the medical system in the southern prefecture. Okinawa has the highest number of new cases per capita among Japan's 47 prefectures.

Hospitals are working to accommodate more patients, but new cases of the coronavirus are outpacing their efforts.

Even people with a higher risk of serious symptoms are having to isolate at home instead of receiving hospital treatment.

The public-run Chubu Hospital in Uruma City has been accepting coronavirus patients whose symptoms were too severe for other hospitals to handle.

Last Friday, the hospital secured more nursing staff and increased the number of beds for COVID-19 patients from 30 to 50. By the end of the day, 42 of them were occupied.

One of the new patients was a man in his 60s who had been isolating at home for about 10 days with persistent symptoms of fever and coughing. Doctors accepted him after confirming he had serious lung inflammation.

Doctor Shiiki Soichi says they are seeing a growing number of serious cases that could have been avoided if people had received treatment earlier.