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776 COVID-19 patients died at home during Japan's 7th wave of infections in July-Aug.

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TOKYO -- At least 776 coronavirus patients died while recuperating at home during the seventh wave of infections in Japan this past summer, with a majority of them in their 80s and over, a survey released on Dec. 7 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has shown.

    Of the 776 people, 30% had received three rounds of COVID-19 vaccinations. The number of those who died at home increased during the seventh wave compared to the fifth and sixth waves in the summer of 2021 and from January to March 2022, respectively, apparently due in part to the effects of the highly transmissible omicron variant's BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

    The health ministry tallied the number of people who died while recovering at home or waiting for hospital beds between July and August, via prefectural governments across the country. Of the 776 people, 460 were men and 316 were women. By age, 58% were in their 80s or older, 21% were in their 70s, and 9% were in their 60s. Overall, nearly 90% were in their 60s or older.

    Of the patients who died at home, 41.4% had been diagnosed as having "mild or no symptoms" immediately before their deaths, followed by "moderate symptoms" at 13.1% and "severe symptoms" at 7.1%.

    The ratio of patients with severe symptoms who died at home increased from the 2.2% recorded during the sixth wave, suggesting that medical care services were not reaching those people as the number of patients recovering at home increased. There were reports of cases where "patients died after suddenly developing severe symptoms while recuperating at home."

    During the fifth wave, at least 202 coronavirus patients died at home. The figure increased to 555 people during the sixth wave. During the seventh wave, the number of those recovering at home had reached 1.5 million people by mid-August.

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

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