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Nursing care homes in Japan short of masks, sanitary goods: survey

Children are seen wearing masks inside a care facility for children set up at a company in the western Japan city of Nara on March 2, 2020. Masks are in short supply across the country due to the spread of the new coronavirus, adversely affecting nursing care facilities. (Mainichi/Keiko Shioji)

TOKYO -- Nearly 20% of nursing care homes in Japan surveyed by a labor union say they have run out of masks, while over 30% report not having enough sanitary goods such as disinfectants and gloves.

Nippon Careservice Craft Union (NCCU) announced results of the survey on March 2, and is urging the national and local governments to secure a sufficient supply of masks, which are indispensable for nursing care services.

"The government should manage distribution of the products so that medical, nursing care and welfare institutions are given priority in obtaining necessary sanitary goods," said a union official.

NCCU, which represents workers at nursing care homes, conducted the survey on 4,043 facilities across the country from Feb. 28, and 1,117 of them had responded by March 1.

The results show that over half of those surveyed by the union had only secured enough masks for two weeks.

Of the facilities surveyed, 18.8% said they have already run out of masks, while 7.3% answered that they had enough masks for one to three days. Some 9.8% replied that they held up to seven days' worth of masks, while 16.6% responded they had secured enough masks for up to 14 days. Among facilities that dispatch care workers to patients' homes, 27.8% have already run out of masks, while two-thirds replied that they have enough masks for up to two weeks.

Among the respondents, 34.1% said they do not have sufficient supplies of sanitary goods such as disinfectants and gloves for care work, far above the 7.6% that answered they had enough.

(Japanese original by Takuya Murata, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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