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Telemedicine gains no traction in Japan despite COVID surge

Doctors shun online visits on malpractice fears and paperwork involved, Nikkei finds

A doctor suits up in protective gear at a hospital in Tokyo. Japan this week extended its fourth coronavirus state of emergency.    © Reuters

TOKYO -- Almost no doctors are seeing first-time patients online in Japan more than a year since the government greenlighted the option, Nikkei has learned, even as the health care system struggles to cope with the resurgence of coronavirus infections.

An average of 2,400 initial doctor appointments were conducted online per month across most of the country, according to data obtained by Nikkei from the health ministry, accounting for less than 0.1% of the total.

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