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COVID-19 patient in self-isolation awaiting hospitalization found dead at home in Japan

The Hiroshima Prefectural Government building (Mainichi/Itsuo Tokubo)

HIROSHIMA -- A person in their 60s, who had contracted the coronavirus and was deemed as requiring hospitalization, was found dead at home one day before they were to be admitted to the hospital, announced the prefectural and municipal governments in Hiroshima on Dec. 20.

    The patient's condition is said to have deteriorated suddenly after they were examined by a doctor. It is the first time for the death of a coronavirus patient in self-isolation at home to be recorded in Hiroshima Prefecture.

    According to the announcement by the Hiroshima Prefectural Government and Hiroshima Municipal Government, the patient in their 60s had been in close contact with another patient, and took a test on Dec. 10. It was revealed on Dec. 13 that they tested positive for COVID-19, and although the patient had symptoms of a fever of 37.7 degrees Celsius, as well as bloody phlegm, it was determined that they were mild symptoms. As the patient had underlying conditions, including diabetes and having had a heart attack, the prefectural government arranged for a medical examination at the Hiroshima Prefectural Hospital in the city's Minami Ward, as the patient and their family consulted the municipal government saying that they were worried about the development of severe symptoms.

    The doctor determined on Dec. 14 that the resident "does not need to be hospitalized immediately" as they were able to walk on their own. The patient returned home after arranging to be admitted to the hospital from the following day, but their family discovered them dead at home in the morning of Dec. 15. While it's believed that the patient died late on the previous night, the cause of death is unknown.

    Eisaku Kinoshita, director of the health and welfare bureau of the Hiroshima Prefectural Government, commented, "We take this matter very seriously. It was the doctor's overall decision to not have the patient hospitalized on the day of the medical examination." There is said to be no relation between the strained condition of hospital beds and the doctor's decision. Meanwhile, bereaved family members have apparently been demanding that the municipal government explain why the patient could not be hospitalized.

    (Japanese original by Misa Koyama, Hiroshima Bureau)

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