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Injured man refused by hospital over COVID test left at motorbike accident scene in Japan

This file photo shows an ambulance on a road. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

KOBE -- An ambulance crew in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, returned an injured man to the scene of a traffic accident and left him there after a hospital refused to accept him because he had tested positive for the coronavirus, the city's fire department told the Mainichi Shimbun on Aug. 12.

    The 21-year-old student from the nearby city of Kobe was taken by a different ambulance to another hospital about two hours later, and was diagnosed with a broken left leg. An Amagasaki municipal fire department representative said, "Ambulance dispatches are on the rise because of COVID-19, and we did everything we could."

    According to the fire department, the student fell off his motorbike on National Route No. 2 in Amagasaki after colliding with a car at around 11:50 p.m. on Aug. 5. A friend riding a separate motorbike called an ambulance.

    The student arrived at the first hospital in a fire station ambulance about 30 minutes later. As the student had a fever, he took an antigen test inside the ambulance, which came back positive, and the hospital refused to accept him. The ambulance crew determined that his injuries did not require emergency care. They apparently returned to the scene of the accident and dropped him off there, with the student's consent.

    However, the student felt pain in his neck and lower back, and his father called another ambulance from the accident scene at around 2 a.m. on Aug. 6. Another fire department ambulance took him to a hospital in the city of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, where doctors found he had a leg fracture.

    Ambulance transport cases have been surging in Amagasaki amid the seventh coronavirus wave. Between July 1 and Aug. 11, there were 4,538 ambulance dispatches, up 939 from the same period of the previous year.

    (Japanese original by Ai Murata, Kobe Bureau)

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