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Coronavirus

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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