Record number of COVID patients on ventilators

A group of doctors in Japan says more than 900 seriously ill coronavirus patients across the country are on medical ventilation.

Nonprofit organization Japan ECMO network says a record 907 patients are on ventilators, including ECMO heart-lung machines, as of Sunday.

The figure is much higher than the 630 recorded at the peak of the third wave of infections in January, and the 764 recorded at the peak of the fourth wave in May.

The group says wards designated for serious COVID-19 cases are full at some hospitals, and patients have to be admitted into wards for less serious cases, which are usually not equipped with ventilators. This means staff have to use additional machines from elsewhere.

Japan ECMO network member Shimizu Keiki says staff at some hospitals in Tokyo are stretched so thin that non-specialist doctors have been forced to handle ventilators.

Shimizu adds it is crucial to curb the overall number of coronavirus cases so medical workers are available to save more lives.