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Central Japan pref. to pay hospitals up to 4 mil. for each COVID-19 patient they accept

Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Koji Hyodo)

NAGOYA -- The central Japan prefecture of Aichi will give local medical institutions that have accepted COVID-19 patients a subsidy of 1 million to 4 million yen per patient, Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura announced on April 22.

Gov. Omura said that the "medical staff support money" can be used to cover hospitals' expenses when doctors and others stay at hotels to avoid infecting their family members, as well as to increase the staff numbers to accept patients infected with the new coronavirus and improve treatment of employees. This is believed to be the country's first subsidy initiative for medical institutions based on the number of COVID-19 patients.

The amount of the grant depends on the level of symptoms; a medical facility will receive 1 million yen per patient with minor to moderate cases, 2 million yen per patient with severe symptoms that require a respirator and 4 million yen per patient in a critical condition in which treatment with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is required. Medical institutions in Aichi Prefecture can apply for the subsidy retrospectively up to this past January when the prefecture's first COVID-19 patient was admitted to hospital.

The prefectural capital of Nagoya and the cities of Toyohashi, Toyota and Okazaki are coordinating to pitch in one-third of the subsidy each, while the prefectural government will cover all costs for other municipalities. Aichi Prefecture estimates the cost to be more than 3 billion yen for the time being, and plans to submit a supplementary budget proposal to the extraordinary prefectural assembly session in May, with an aim to start handing out the money at the end of the same month at the earliest.

The prefectural government is also considering setting up a fund to add extra cash to the subsidy by asking for contributions from the public through "hometown tax" donations.

Gov. Omura pointed out that when a medical institution accepts a patient with the new coronavirus, it means "a double blow" for them due to increased labor costs while the number of patients accepted with other illnesses drop. He added, "I hope that by supporting medical staff, it will encourage facilities to accept more patients."

(Japanese original by Ayuko Nomura, Nagoya News Center)

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