tokyo 2020 olympics

Heatstroke or COVID-19? Similar symptoms could confuse at Olympics

34 Comments
By Ju-min Park

Emergency medicine experts warn first responders at the Tokyo Olympics could easily confuse heatstroke and coronavirus patients because the illnesses bear similar symptoms.

While Games organizers have moved the marathon and race-walk events to the cooler northern city of Sapporo, most events are taking place in Tokyo between July 23 and Aug 8, the peak of the city's hot and humid summer.

"Medical resources in the hot summer are so limited, even in the normal summer without the Olympic Games," said Shoji Yokobori, chair of the Nippon Medical School Hospital's department of emergency and critical care medicine in Tokyo.

Shinji Nakahara, a public health expert at Kanagawa University of Human Services, said medical teams could mistake a COVID-19 patient for somebody suffering from heatstroke as both illnesses have symptoms of high temperature, dehydration and fatigue.

"It can cause a messy situation in medical care stations at each venue," said Nakahara.

Tokyo's emergency health system has already had a taste of the combination of heatstroke and COVID-19. So-called difficult-to-transfer cases - where a patient being transported by ambulance is turned down by multiple hospitals - more than doubled last summer from a year earlier.

Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, has said officials are working on plans to deal with heatstroke, considered a major health concern alongside COVID-19.

In a study of heatstroke management during the pandemic, Yokobori found that around four people diagnosed with severe heatstroke among 1,000 cases later tested positive for COVID-19.

While the ratio was nominal, the result was a "shock", Yokobori said, due to risks over hospital-acquired infections.

Compounding the problem, wearing masks, a key prevention measure against the coronavirus, can raise body temperatures in the heat of the summer.

That puts not only spectators but emergency responders at risk, Yokoburi said, calling for organizers to bar spectators from the Games.

Tokyo 2020 have already blocked spectators from overseas but are yet to announce whether locals will be able to attend.

"When we take care of heatstroke patients, we also have to protect ourselves with heavy protective gear, because we cannot separate COVID-19 with heatstroke," Yokoburi said. "That makes us so stressed."

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
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"Medical resources in the hot summer are so limited, even in the normal summer without the Olympic Games," said Shoji Yokobori, chair of the Nippon Medical School Hospital's department of emergency and critical care medicine in Tokyo.

I don't know what this medical expert is worried about, the IOC repeatedly said that having the Games will be perfectly safe.

24 ( +24 / -0 )

The IOCLDPJOC’s ‘gift to the world’ this summer: Humidity, heat and the potential chance of spreading viruses.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Easy fix,....Just cancel heat stroke instead of the Olympics!

10 ( +18 / -8 )

Let’s hope the athletes, forced into competing by the greedy IOCLDPJOC, the other foreign govts, corporate sponsors and broadcasters, can survive this “Summer soup”.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

What a comfort to the people of Tohoku and a symbol of overcoming COVID.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

It was some similar articles last year before the summer.

This is not an Olympics concern, but a general concern.

As for athletes, supposing to compete after a negative test, there is no reason to suspect covid but rather a heat stroke after an hard effort

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Can't see athletes complying with the mask wearing REQUEST like most Japanese do, even when they're out outside alone, or driving solo. It's gonna be a scorching one in Tokyo, folks amplified by mask wearing.

And yeah, I thought the Olympics were supposed to be safe. There is no way athletes will catch it from the Japanese since community transmission is almost non-existent now, right? So, athletes, feel free remove those masks when out and about drinking alcohol in front convenience stores or visiting shrines when around Japanese people in nearly 100% humidity at nearly 40oC.

Enjoy your time in Japan :) NOT

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In a study of heatstroke management during the pandemic, Yokobori found that around four people diagnosed with severe heatstroke among 1,000 cases later tested positive for COVID-19.

Huh? What kind of "study" comes up with a conclusion with "about"?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Only in Japan a medical “ professional” would confuse covid with heatstroke.

Its like a cook confusing steak with pork or an athlete a tennis ball with a golfball.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Oh and Sapporo said its not ready to host the events .

a logical result of such a comment is to take away the events from them. Safety first , right IOC ? Right Mr Suga ?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Everything can now somehow be given a COVID slant

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

In terms of human blundering, this will be the most tainted olympics ever.

I feel sorry for the athletes.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As for athletes, supposing to compete after a negative test, there is no reason to suspect covid but rather a heat stroke after an hard effort

Unfortunately that is a recipe for disaster, a negative test remains valid as long as the person has been isolated from others for at least 10 days, if the people being tested are in constant contact with other athletes, supporting personal, volunteers, reporters, etc. There is always the possibility of them becoming infected after the test or even that they were already infected at the time of the test but would not become positive until hours later.

If doctors or paramedics assume there is no infection the result is that any case that was actually positive would expose other people that are being treated and that may not have a fully functional immune system. For good or for bad anything that could be mistaken for COVID needs to be treated as such until confirmed negative.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And both will be denied and ignored.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just drive them around in an ambulance for 4 hours and take them back to the hotel.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Emergency medicine experts warn first responders at the Tokyo Olympics could easily confuse heatstroke and coronavirus patients because the illnesses bear similar symptoms.

In terms of skewing Japanese stats, this could be very useful for the government. Very useful and very convenient. On top of the way they count the hospitalized depending on what type of bed they're given.

Summer 2021 is going to be known as the summer when unusually more people died of heat stroke!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Heatstroke annually kills about as many people as have dies to date from COVID (haven’t fact checked that but feels about right)

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Showing the world Japan can overcome heatstroke shows our strength in unity.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This calls for a new panel of experts to be set up and a series of meetings to be held.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

When asked if he could tell the difference between heatstroke and COVID-19, IOC President Thomas Bach said “as long as we get our broadcast fees, mate, they can die from whatever they want”.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Fiasco - 'a complete failure, especially a ludicrous or humiliating one'.

The Tokyo Olympics has taken the word 'fiasco' to a whole new level.

Just going ahead with them in the current climate (no pun intended) is grounds to redefine the word, but to blindly ignore the expert advice of medical professionals is proof that these people are only thinking in terms of finances. This is just the latest example of how Japan and the IOC is on a mission to redefine the fundamental meaning of 'fiasco'.

Ignoring the obvious current COVID issues, remember the Olympic stadium fiasco with the British Iraqi designer Zaha Hadid being canceled in favor of a Japanese architect?

How about the Olympic logo fiasco with the Japanese designer Kenjiro Sano being dropped for plagiarism?

Then there was the summer heatstroke fiasco when tens, if not hundreds, of millions of yen were spent on trying to design methods to make sure athletes would remain cool and hydrated. And then the same thing for spectators - maybe a water sprinkler system could be designed to line the marathon route etc etc.

Then there was the whole marathon location fiasco where it went back and forth from Tokyo to Hokkaido a few times.

Oh, and rewinding right back to the bidding process there was the fiasco of Abe lying to the IOC during the final presentation that Fukushima was 'under control'.

The whole process has been, and continues to be, a ludicrous and humiliating disaster.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In terms of human blundering, this will be the most tainted olympics ever.

I was about to upvote your post.

I feel sorry for the athletes.

But now I can't. Athletes are what's fueling this absurd thing. If more and more refuse to come, there would be no Olympics. And don't go on about how it's their life long dream or whatever. There are plenty of people around the world that have had their dreams shattered over this.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Not to worry - as we all know, Japanese doctors are master diagnosticians...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I thought there was rapid testing within 3 hours. So the suspected heat stroke patient must be tested and 3 hours after result decide where to treat the patient.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Catch-22.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wait a minute:

the athletes will be tested everyday, RIGHT??

If someone from the staff or public presents with symptoms you just test them, to err on the safe side, RIGHT??

It’s not rocket science.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Heatstroke or COVID-19?

I'll choose heatstroke. That's because it's super easy to prevent. You know, like NOT DOING strenuous physical activity in peak heat times during the summer and drinking a ton of liquids? For example, the Summer Olympics.

Covid-19, well that's harder to avoid. It's not like theres a vaccine available for it or anything.

Or is that only in Japan?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Save this post for posterity as it's a nearly guaranteed outcome.

When it all goes with a confluence heat, humidity, Covid19 and general understaffing at hospitals, it will just be Jgov blaming the IOC and the IOC blaming Jgov in an endless circle jerk until it all just goes away when the next "scandal" erupts.

The lives lost will be a footnote, at best, and citizens will contiue to let them get away with it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They have Ag Rapid tests, don't they?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Covid is not a problem until 8pm.

Heatstroke only during the day.

That’s easy to understand, isn’t it?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This ain't limited to the Olympics, folks. Another non-news.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sometimes I do not understand human logic. Puzzling. Surely, all it takes is a quick swab and you get the results in a few minutes. Problem solved and no fuss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 So-called difficult-to-transfer cases - where a patient being transported by ambulance is turned down by multiple hospitals - more than doubled last summer from a year earlier.

I'm always disgusted when I hear about this BS. I can't believe hospitals can just turn away emergency patients like that. Requiring ER (A&E) departments to accept all patients should be one of the requirements for certification as a licensed hospital.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Covid is not a problem until 8pm.

Heatstroke only during the day.

That’s easy to understand, isn’t it?

It's science!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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