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21 of 40 critical coronavirus patients in Japan recovered on ECMO life support

Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura is seen speaking to reporters at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, on March 26, 2020. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a form of life support treatment that takes on the role of the heart and lungs, has helped 21 of 40 novel coronavirus patients in a critical condition in Japan to recover, according to a report heard by economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura during a meeting on April 2.

Nishimura received the report at a face-to-face meeting with Shinhiro Takeda, representative of the organization "Japan COVID-19 countermeasures ECMOnet," comprising the Japanese Society of Intensive Care Medicine and other groups.

At present, Japan has about 400 ECMO machines at medical institutions designated to handle infectious diseases across the country for the most critical patients, and some 13,000 ventilators to assist people with breathing. But concerns remain that a wider spread of infections will lead to a lack of provisions for people in need.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Takeda, Nishimura said that the government intends to support the introduction of such equipment to medical facilities, and help boost production too. The plans are expected to be laid out in an emergency economic stimulus plan set to be compiled next week.

He also indicated that the government is looking at plans to secure more staff to administer treatment via ECMO, saying, "We will put all of our efforts into preparing the medical system."

(Japanese original by Hironori Takechi, Political News Department)

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