Photo/Illutration A COVID-19 patient is transported to a hospital in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Aug. 11. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

More than 200 psychiatric hospital patients have died of COVID-19 after being denied transfers to other health care institutions capable of providing proper treatment for the disease, an industry group said.

Transfer requests for these patients were rejected mainly because the medical facilities “cannot deal with people with psychiatric problems,” the Japan Psychiatric Hospitals Association said on Sept. 15.

The organization, which consists of private psychiatric hospitals, said 235 patients who were infected between March 2020 and August this year died while waiting to be accepted by a hospital equipped to treat people with the infectious disease.

It conducted a survey on its 1,185 member hospitals from Aug. 23 and 31, to which 711 hospitals, or 60 percent, responded.

The survey revealed that 3,602 patients contracted the novel coronavirus during hospitalization while 1,489 hospital employees were infected between March 2020 and August 2021.

Psychiatric hospitals have difficulties implementing anti-virus measures because patients sometimes refuse to wear masks or may mistakenly drink antiseptic solution that is readily available, the association said.

It urged the health ministry to build a system that can provide necessary medical care for psychiatric patients who become infected with the novel coronavirus.