Mission of Mercy: On duty at Japan’s ‘last-chance’ hospital for coronavirus

KAWASAKI, Japan – Two paramedics jump out the back of an idling ambulance with Tokyo plates, carefully lowering an elderly woman on a stretcher.

The patient, her small face covered with an oxygen mask, disappears behind St Marianna’s automatic doors.

Another suspected Covid-19 patient has arrived.

In the midst of a global pandemic, St Marianna University Hospital, a Catholic institution in a working-class suburb south of Tokyo, has become synonymous with the virus.

In the three months since the first wave of sick passengers arrived from the cruise ship Diamond Princess, the hospital has treated some 40 people seriously ill with the disease, more than almost any other medical facility in Japan.

It has even taken in patients when other hospitals turned them away.

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