Japan school closure causes a new problem: Nurses stay home to care for kids

Japan’s controversial decision to close schools in March could make it harder for the country to battle not only coronavirus but also provide general health care, as nurses face a stark choice: go to work or stay home to look after their children, the Asahi newspaper reported.

The country’s northernmost province of Hokkaido closed schools Friday, ahead of the rest of the country, as it has seen a spike in cases.

The immediate knock-on effect was a shortage of nurses at a hospital in Obihiro city in the east of the island, forcing authorities to turn away patients who did not already have a reservation or were facing a medical emergency.

More than 20 percent of the hospital’s 700 staff have school-age children, the newspaper reported, while hospitals around Japan are also facing staff shortages.