Japan must act with speed, says health minister

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Govt must act with speed, says Health Min Tamura.

New hospital policy draws fears of potential increase in death toll from potential increase.

TokYO, Aug. 4 - Japan's health minister was acting pre-emptively to ensure there are sufficient beds for seriously ill COVID 19 patients, its health minister said on Wednesday warning infections have entered a new phase with a spike in Delta variant cases.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced only COVID - 19 patients who are seriously ill and those at risk of becoming so will be hospitalised, while others isolate at home, a shift in policy some fear may lead to an increase in deaths.

Health Minister Norihisa Tamura defended the policy shift, saying that by asking people with less serious symptoms to isolate at home, Japan can ensure it does not run out of hospital beds for people in need of intensive care.

The pandemic entered a new phase in the pandemic. If there are no beds, people can't bring people into hospitals. Tamura told Parliament that we are acting pre-emptively on this front.

It is important to act with speed, he said, adding that the government was ready to roll back the new policy if it does not help solve a shortage in hospitals.