By RYO YAMAGISHI/ Staff Writer
August 4, 2021 at 18:53 JST
Emergency workers in Chiba Prefecture disinfect an ambulance after transporting a patient with fever to a hospital on Jan 15. (Provided by the Inage Fire Department of Chiba)
More than 2,000 ambulances carrying emergency patients had to wait at least 30 minutes for a hospital to accept them in the week through Aug. 1, a government agency said.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the figure, 2,376, double the number logged in the first week of July, was likely the result of hospitals being filled up with COVID-19 patients.
The ambulance delays were reported by 52 fire departments in major cities.
The latest figure is the highest since January, when Japan was pounded by the third wave of coronavirus infections.
Similarly, the ambulance delays are now increasing in tandem with the current surge in COVID-19 cases, according to the agency.
The agency has kept weekly tabs since April 2020 on ambulances that had to remain at the patients’ homes for at least 30 minutes after more than three medical facilities could not accept them.
During the third wave of infections in December and January, the number of delayed cases reached 3,317 as hospitals were already overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
The peak during the fourth wave of infections in April and June was 2,064.
The number of delays then steadily declined, along with the decreasing number of new COVID-19 cases.
There were 1,115 cases of ambulance delays over the week until July 4.
But the figure has rebounded and reached 2,202 during the week through July 25.
Of the 2,376 cases in the latest count, 1,292 occurred in Tokyo, excluding those in Inagi city and outlying islands, up 14 percent from the previous week.
The figure for Yokohama came to 160, up 19 percent, while the city of Chiba reported 76 cases, down 11 percent.
In Saitama city, 57 ambulance delays were reported, a drop of 10 percent.
Osaka city reported 235 cases, down 8 percent.
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