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Tokyo to set up 'waiting stations' to accept COVID-19 patients amid lack of hospital beds

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, right, attends the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's monitoring meeting at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters on Aug. 12, 2021. (Mainichi/Shinji Kurokawa)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will set up "waiting stations" to always accept COVID-19 patients at the request of emergency services to resolve cases in which they have difficulty finding hospitals that can accept such patients, as part of its new coronavirus measures amid a surge in infections.

    The plan, announced by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Aug. 12, is part of efforts to enhance the system to protect the capital's strained health care sector. The metropolitan government will also strengthen the support system for those recuperating at home.

    Koike revealed these countermeasures after attending the metropolitan government's monitoring meeting. According to the metro government, a total of 36 dedicated beds will be set up at 11 hospitals run by Tokyo and public corporations as waiting stations for patients who cannot find hospitals that will accept them. The beds will reportedly be secured by limiting general practice.

    As for the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients recovering at home, the metropolitan government will enhance the home-visit medical care system by working with the Tokyo Medical Association and other local medical groups.

    To reduce the flow of people, Koike is calling for Tokyoites to shop once every three days and businesses to thoroughly manage admissions to commercial facilities. "The flow of people drastically changes during the Obon holidays. We should take this opportunity to dramatically reduce contact between people."

    At the monitoring meeting, it was reported that the daily average of new infections over the last seven days stood at 3,933.9 people as of Aug. 11, an increase of about 500 from the previous week, and that the infection status and the alert level of the medical care system remained the most serious.

    The metropolitan government on the same day announced a supplementary budget plan totaling 155.6 billion yen (roughly $1.4 billion) as a coronavirus countermeasure, which will be submitted to the extraordinary session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly slated for Aug. 18.

    One billion yen (approx. $9 million) is allocated to the vaccination promotion programs for people in their 20s and 30s. An app will be developed so that people who were inoculated can register to receive points and corporate discount services. Online advertising and video streaming will also be intensively carried out to convey the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

    Regarding the monthly support benefits provided to small- and medium-sized companies and businesses selling liquor, who have seen a decrease in their sales, 30.3 billion yen (around $274 million) has been included to extend and expand the support.

    (Japanese original by Shinji Kurokawa and Hitomi Saikawa Tokyo City News Department)

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