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Tokyo gov't follow-up center for COVID-19 patients recovering at home well received

Nurses and other workers respond to phone calls from patients receiving treatment at home at the COVID-19 follow-up center in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Koichi Uchida)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government's coronavirus follow-up center, which provides health monitoring and other support on behalf of public health centers to COVID-19 patients recovering at home, has gained a good reputation from both patients and health care center workers.

    The center was established by the metropolitan government in November last year. It not only reduces the workload of the public health centers, but also provides relief to patients by conducting health monitoring, arranging for a week's supply of groceries, and providing 24-hour medical consultations to those who are under 65 years old, have no underlying diseases, and have mild or no symptoms.

    The work is outsourced to a private company, with 30 to 40 nurses and other workers answering phones and performing other duties. The number of staff can be increased to about 120 if required.

    Initially, the service was provided within the jurisdiction of the metropolitan public health center in the Tama area in the western suburbs of Tokyo, but starting on Jan. 25, it was expanded to cover the entire capital except for island areas. As of Feb. 21, 210 of the 933 COVID-19 patients in Tokyo recovering at home were being followed up. At its peak, the center handled about 760 patients in the Tama area alone.

    According to the metropolitan government, some public health centers have said that by having the follow-up center take care of some of the home-care patients, they can concentrate on other work. In addition, it has received comments from patients such as, "It was very helpful to have food delivered and not have to go out," and "It was reassuring to receive health counseling support 24 hours a day."

    On Feb. 18, the metropolitan government opened up the center's operations to the press. Inside the facility, nurses were making phone calls to people who were newly starting home care, confirming whether they wanted to have their health monitored by on the phone or the free communication app Line, and whether they needed food delivered.

    A metropolitan government official said, "I think there is a lot of anxiety about symptoms and other issues when people are recuperating alone. We want to follow up with them so that they can feel at ease."

    (Japanese original by Koichi Uchida, City News Department)

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