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Japan firm boosts production of oxygen concentrators for COVID-19 patients

Oxygen concentrators are seen lined up for an inspection before shipping in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, on Aug. 23, 2021. (Mainichi/Emi Naito)

SAYAMA, Saitama -- The production of oxygen concentrators at a company in this east Japan city has been beefed up following the rapid spread of coronavirus infections.

    Ikiken Co. employees manufacture oxygen concentrators in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, on Aug. 23, 2021. (Mainichi/Emi Naito)

    Oxygen concentrators, which are used for treatment at home and elsewhere under prescription by doctors, remove nitrogen from inhaled air and send concentrated oxygen to a patient's nose or mouth through a tube.

    According to machine producer Ikiken Co., a subsidiary of Osaka-based medical company Air Water Inc., orders for concentrators have increased by 40% to 50% since around mid-May amid the "fourth wave" of infections, compared to the same period last year. The company has lent about 700 concentrators to local governments and expects the number to surpass 1,000 by early September.

    Though the machines had been intended for patients with chronic respiratory failures such as chronic obstructive lung disease before the pandemic, the company began increasing production for COVID-19 patients to meet requests from institutions such as public health centers amid the spread of infections from last year.

    Ikiken's President Keishi Nakayama, 47, said: "It's a social mission to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. We'd like to maintain a stable supply that can meet demand."

    (Japanese original by Emi Naito, Photo Group)

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