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Japan scrambles for medical staff to handle coronavirus surge

Beds are plenty, but doctors are spread thin among many small hospitals

Japan has the most hospital beds per capita among G-7 nations, but the nation's physicians are spread thin. (Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

TOKYO -- Japan's latest spike in coronavirus cases overwhelmed a city in central Hokkaido, prompting the northern prefecture's governor to request backup from the national government.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi responded Tuesday by dispatching 10 nurses from Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force to two understaffed hospitals in Asahikawa. The city endured a record number of infections that day, along with six deaths.

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