The Nippon Foundation Modifies Emergency COVID-19 Response, Readying up to 600 Beds in Tokyo [2020/05/07]
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extended on May 4 the nationwide state of emergency until May 31 to further contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.This was in part necessary to remove some of the strain on hospitals overcrowded with COVID-19 patients.
To free up hospital beds for severely ill and high-risk patients, The Nippon Foundation announced on April 3 that it would build a makeshift facility in Tokyo with some 1,200 beds for patients with mild or no symptoms, and later a larger facility in Tsukuba, north of Tokyo.
Now, as a result of close consultations with the Tokyo Metropolitan government and medical experts since then, we have decided to scale down the initial plan in order to better meet the changing needs on the front lines and ensure that patients have a comfortable stay.
At a press conference on May 1, I announced a modified three-stage initiative calling for readying up to 600 beds, instead of 1,200 under the initial plan, in Tokyo for patients who are asymptomatic or exhibit only mild symptoms.
First, the foundation has already completed a makeshift facility in The Nippon Foundation Para Arena, a dedicated para sports gymnasium, in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay. The facility comprises 100 10-square-meter private rooms, each with a bed, desk, chair and locker, with 30 toilets and showers to be built outside the gym by mid-May.
Second, we will set up by late May a large air-conditioned tent in a parking lot of the adjacent Museum of Maritime Science, operated by our partner organization, with 60 beds for COVID-19 patients. If necessary, we are ready to pitch more tents to accommodate up to 300 more patients.
Third, we will build by the end of June prefabricated buildings with 140 20-square-meter private rooms, each with its own bathtub, toilet and laundry facilities. They are designed to accommodate infected people living with families, including single parents and their children.
All the facilities will be one-story buildings so that doctors, nurses and healthcare staffers can work efficiently.
Costs of setting up and running the facilities, recruiting doctors, nurses and medical staff, paying their salaries, buying their surgical masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment, covering their meals and other expenses will all be taken care of by the foundation.
But as the foundation is offering the assistance as a private sector entity, the metropolitan government will be responsible for the medical and operational details.
As for the 9,000-bed Tsukuba facility, the foundation’s president Takeju Ogata briefed the city’s mayor, Tatsuo Igarashi, on the state of our plan at the municipal office in Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, on April 30. Mr. Ogata promised we will continue to consult with the city as we proceed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said: "Since the Second World War, there has been no challenge to our nation that has demanded such a degree of common and united action."
I believe we need to recognize the gravity of the crisis posed by the coronavirus wreaking havoc around the world. It is crucially important that the central and local governments and the private sector all unite to defeat COVID-19.
The Nippon Foundation has completed a makeshift facility in The Nippon Foundation Para Arena in Tokyo with 100 beds for coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms.