Numbers of seriously ill patients remain high

Japanese health ministry officials say more than 2,200 coronavirus patients across the country are seriously ill.

The number of COVID patients who need to be connected to ECMO lung-heart machines reached a record high of 161 on Saturday. ECMO stands for extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation.

A vehicle has been specially designed for transporting COVID patients being treated with an ECMO machine. The mobile intensive care unit is equipped with ventilators and oxygen cylinders.
Tokyo only has one of these special vehicles, so it's in high demand.

On Thursday, the ECMO Car was sent to a medical institution in the capital to assist a patient whose respiratory functions worsened while on a ventilator.
The ECMO Car was used to transport the patient to another hospital. It took about three hours for the medical staff to connect the patient to the device. The hospital transfer was finally completed about six hours after the car was dispatched.

Shimizu Keiki, who is a doctor in charge of the hospital's ECMO operations says if the number of seriously ill patients keeps increasing, it will be impossible to take further measures. Shimizu added that his staff are close to their limit.

Authorities in Japan reported 12,908 new cases on Sunday. The health ministry says 2,207 people nationwide are seriously ill with the coronavirus. That's 16 fewer than Saturday's tally, the highest number since the pandemic began.