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17 coronavirus patients died without 'medical supervision' in Osaka Pref. in past month

The Osaka Prefectural Government headquarters (Mainichi/Yumi Shibamura)

OSAKA -- The Osaka Prefectural Government announced for the first time on May 10 that since January 2020 there have been 18 coronavirus patients who died while recuperating at home without being placed "under medical supervision."

    Of the individuals, 17 had been confirmed to have passed away within around the past month. However, the prefectural government seems to have a limited interpretation of those who were not "under medical supervision," and it is possible that the disclosed figures do not accurately reflect the number of patients who died without being able to receive necessary treatment. Experts said that the figures "do not properly grasp the actual state" and demanded further disclosure of information.

    The Osaka Prefectural Government tallied figures from January 2020 onward, which was when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the prefecture, while dividing statistics by each coronavirus wave, from the "first wave" of infections to the "fourth wave." Prefectural authorities counted cases, including instances of infected individuals who died at home without being able to be hospitalized even after their condition changed for the worse suddenly. Such individuals comprised patients who were recuperating at home following their local public health center's decision, or recovering at home while waiting to be hospitalized or admitted to hotels for recuperation.

    According to the prefectural government, there were no such cases under the first and second coronavirus waves, while the death of a man in his 60s who was not receiving medical supervision was recorded during the third wave.

    When breaking down the age groups of the 17 individuals who passed during the fourth wave, six people were in their 60s -- forming the largest group -- followed by five individuals in their 80s, three in their 50s, two in their 70s, and one in their 30s. The residents comprised 13 men and four women.

    Of the 18 total deaths, including those recorded during the third wave, nine individuals had underlying medical conditions. In response to requests by numerous news outlets asking the prefectural government to disclose information in order to examine whether necessary health care services are being offered to patients, the Osaka government revealed the figures while ensuring the privacy of the individuals concerned.

    However, even in cases where patients experienced a sudden change in their condition at home, the prefectural government deemed individuals who were sent to hospital by ambulance, or were confirmed dead at hospital after being transported, as placed under medical supervision, and thereby not falling under the tally.

    Cases of patients who received first-aid oxygen administration measures at recuperation facilities were also excluded from the tally. As for patients who died at elderly care facilities, the count did not include individuals who had received examinations at least once by a medical professional partnered with the facility who made the rounds at the establishment. Therefore, it is possible that the figures announced by the prefecture do not accurately reflect the number of patients who died after being unable to receive necessary treatment continuously.

    (Japanese original by Masaki Ishikawa, Osaka City News Department)

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