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The Nippon Foundation to Conduct 2 Million Free PCR Tests for Nursing Home Caregivers in Tokyo (2) [2021年01月26日(Tue)]
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Those aged 70 or older account for more than 85% of Japan’s total COVID-19 fatalities.


According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, out of 168 clusters of COVID-19 infections identified nationwide between November 25 and 30, 2020, nursing care facilities accounted for 39, second only to the workplace, which saw 43. As of January 13, those aged 70 or older accounted for about 85% of the nation’s total COVID-19 fatalities.

Finding and treating mildly ill and asymptomatic patients as quickly as possible and preventing them from infecting others is considered to be the most effective way to avoid transmission of the disease. But many care workers are said to be reluctant to undertake PCR tests due mainly to the cost−ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 yen (about 190 to 380 dollars)−prompting the foundation to offer them free and regular testing.

I hope the latest initiative will serve as a role model for our COVID-19 response. If nursing care facilities in other prefectures ask us to conduct PCR tests for their staff, we would consider offering them based on the availability of testing kits and human resources.

I firmly believe that to conquer the pandemic, it is crucially important to balance the public assistance by the government with mutual cooperation and self-supporting efforts by individual citizens in a fair and equitable manner.

At the press conference to announce the PCR testing initiative, I revealed details of “mutual cooperation” to be undertaken by the foundation and stressed the importance of “self-supporting efforts” and the personal responsibility that each of us has. I called on members of the public to take personal health measures to protect themselves, such as observing social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation, refraining from non-essential outings and staying home as much as possible.

This is the foundation’s fourth initiative in response to the coronavirus pandemic as a private institution.
Our first three initiatives are as follows:

(1) Building a 3.7 billion yen (35.7 million dollars) makeshift facility with 140 private rooms in Odaiba for COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms.

(2) Launching a 500 million-yen (about 4.8 million dollars) project to help transport to and from hospitals coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19.

(3) Providing 128 emergency medical service hospitals in 36 prefectures across the nation that take care of severely ill and high-risk patients with a total of 4.98 billion yen (about 48.1 million dollars) in grants to help them beef up facilities and equipment.

(End)



Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:17 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Conduct 2 Million Free PCR Tests for Nursing Home Caregivers in Tokyo (1) [2021年01月25日(Mon)]
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Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on January 19, 2021, I announce The Nippon Foundation’s decision to conduct a total of 2 million free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for care workers of almost 2,900 nursing homes in Tokyo.


Japan continues to experience a significant increase in novel coronavirus infections, straining health care capacity in many areas. It has had much smaller numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities than the United States and some other countries; nevertheless, how to save the lives of persons in higher-risk groups, namely older adults and those with underlying health conditions who are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill or dying if infected, is a daunting challenge.

To help cope with this, The Nippon Foundation has decided to conduct free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for caregivers and other essential workers at almost 2,900 nursing homes in Tokyo. This is the fourth project being undertaken by the foundation in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the decision announced at a press conference on January 19, the foundation plans to start testing on February 8 when we open a PCR testing facility in the compound of the Museum of Maritime Science, operated by our partner organization, in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay.

In carrying out the project, the foundation will be assisted by St. Luke’s International Hospital, Nippon Medical School Hospital, Toho University Omori Medical Center and Juntendo University Hospital as well as the non-profit organization Humanitarian Medical Assistance (HuMA).

The PCR tests will be administered to any among some 190,000 caregivers and other nursing-home staff who wish to get tested. Assuming that we perform the tests on a regular basis, hopefully once a week for each person, we envisage carrying out a total of 2 million tests at a cost of some 20 billion yen (about 193 million dollars) by July when Japan is expected to have made considerable progress in vaccinating its people.

At a time when healthcare capacity is under strain, the initiative to offer caregivers free and regular PCR testing is aimed at helping to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by identifying positive cases with mild or no symptoms and thus prevent them from unknowingly transmitting the coronavirus to the elderly and others with underlying health conditions in their care. In particular, it is intended to focus on containing infection clusters.

The PCR testing center will handle 3,000 samples per day initially, 6,000 a day in March, and 14,000 a day in April with the monthly total thereafter expected to rise to about 400,000.

We will send out saliva test kits and analyze the samples after they are returned to the testing center. Anyone who tests positive will be informed  and their details reported to their local health center. Family members and others who have been in close contact with them will be tested as well.

(To be continued)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:23 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
Tokyo Opens Pet-Friendly Facility for COVID-19 Patients Built by The Nippon Foundation [2020年11月09日(Mon)]
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14 prefabricated buildings (seen in the right half the photo) with a total of 140 20-square-meter private rooms are now open for COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms and their pets. The Nippon Foundation built the facility in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay and leased it to the Tokyo metropolitan government for nothing.


The Tokyo metropolitan government has opened a makeshift facility in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay, built by The Nippon Foundation, to allow novel coronavirus patients to stay with their pets.

Tokyo has thus far secured hotels and other facilities to accommodate COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms, but some have chosen to stay at home to take care of their pets.

So, Governor Yuriko Koike said Tokyo now allows those patients to stay with their pets−such as dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters−at the new facility comprising 14 prefabricated buildings with a total of 140 20-square-meter air-conditioned private rooms. Each room is equipped with a television set, refrigerator and laundry facilities, and also has a cage, air fresheners and pet supplies such as potty pads.    

The foundation built the facility in the parking lot of the Museum of Maritime Science, operated by our partner organization, in Odaiba and leased it to the Tokyo government for nothing under an agreement signed between us.

In the same Odaiba compound, we have also completed 100 10-square-meter private rooms in The Nippon Foundation Para Arena, a dedicated para sports gymnasium, and set up a large air-conditioned tent where doctors and nurses will stand by.

I hope the Odaiba facilities, named The Nippon Foundation Disaster Emergency Support Center, will help the nation’s capital confront not only a new wave of coronavirus infections with no vaccine or effective treatments yet developed, but also cope with a major disaster such as a huge earthquake, typhoon or other natural calamity hitting Japan simultaneously with a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

We are undertaking this project, first announced in early April, as the first of our three-phase initiatives in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the second phase, we have launched a 500 million-yen (about 4.8 million dollars) project to help transport to and from hospitals coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19. 

As our third anti-COVID-19 project, the foundation has accepted requests from 128 emergency medical service hospitals in 36 prefectures across the nation, taking care of severely ill and high-risk patients, for a total of 4.98 billion yen (about 48.1 million dollars) in grants to help them beef up facilities and equipment.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:44 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Give 2.26 Billion Yen to Help People Battered by Floods, Mudslides in Kyushu [2020年08月12日(Wed)]
The Nippon Foundation has decided to provide 2.26 billion yen ($2.15 million) in emergency support for people hit by floods and landslides unleashed by torrential rains on the southwestern island of Kyushu and other parts of Japan in July. The money will also be used to help NPOs and volunteer organizations engage in cleanup and recovery operations in these flood-ravaged areas.

As the first part of our four-point assistance, announced on July 27, the foundation has earmarked 210 million yen for installing temporary, hygienic toilets at evacuation centers and care facilities, and providing elderly people, those with disabilities, young children, and others who need special consideration with foldaway beds and partitions as well as fans to combat heatwaves. Besides, our relief will include payment of condolence money (100,000 yen per person) to the family members of those who died as a result of flooding and landslides. In hardest-hit Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, we started installing hygienic toilets at shelter centers early in July with 41 units already set up in Hitoyoshi City, Kuma Village and Taragi Town as of July 20.

Second, the foundation will assist NPOs and volunteer organizations by supplying up to 1 million yen each for their cleanup and recovery activities. Those with personnel with specialist skills or expertise, including people licensed to operate heavy equipment, will be given 3 million yen each. A total of 750 million yen has been set aside for this relief project.

To avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus, no volunteers from other prefectures had initially been dispatched. But at the request of Kuma Village, the foundation decided to send 30 volunteers with specialist skills to run heavy equipment, including power shovels, from outside prefectures, starting on August 8.

In a bid to mitigate COVID-19 infections, we will provide NPOs and volunteer organizations with personal protective gear such as face masks, disinfectants and gowns as well as disaster response showers equipped with water purifying systems, and washbowls.

Third, we are providing 100 million yen for supplying educational materials, including books, physical education equipment and musical instruments, for nurseries, kindergartens, primary, middle and high schools, and universities that were flooded. Assistance is to be requested by principals, but representatives of PTAs (Parent-Teacher Associations) can also apply.

Finally, we earmarked 1.2 billion yen to help flooded care homes and other facilities by providing grants of 1 to 3 million yen each to continue operations, replacing damaged vehicles and equipment, and repairing damaged buildings and facilities.

The Nippon Foundation has started to accept donations from the public to support those battered by floods and landslides in Kyushu and other parts of Japan. With administrative or other indirect costs being borne by us, the entire amount of all donations received will be used to support the clean-up and recovery efforts in those hard-hit areas.

For details regarding donations, please refer to The Nippon Foundation’s website
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:31 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Completes Makeshift Facilities with 250 Beds for COVID-19 Patients [2020年08月07日(Fri)]
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The Nippon Foundation Para Arena which houses 100 private rooms for COVID-19 patients is seen on the left, and 14 prefabricated houses with 150 beds and a large air-conditioned tent for doctors and nurses on the right.


The Nippon Foundation has completed 2 billion yen ($19 million) makeshift facilities in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay with 250 beds for novel coronavirus patients with minor or no symptoms.  

The facilities shown to the media on July 30 included 14 prefabricated houses with a total of 140 20-square-meter air-conditioned private rooms each with a television set, refrigerator and laundry facilities. Built in a parking lot of the Museum of Maritime Science, operated by our partner organization, 10 out of the 140 rooms will have two beds so as to accommodate members of the same family who have contracted the virus.  

In May, the foundation already completed 100 10-square-meter private rooms in The Nippon Foundation Para Arena, a dedicated para sports gymnasium, in the same compound. Showers and toilets were built outside. If necessary, we are to ready to increase to 600 the total number of beds available at these facilities.

Besides, we set up a large air-conditioned tent where doctors and nurses will stand by. Patients can summon nursing staff via a nurse call system from their rooms. 

These facilities are designed to free up hospital beds for severely ill and high-risk patients and remove some of the strain on hospitals now seen as likely to become overcrowded with COVID-19 patients.

We are currently in consultation with officials of the Tokyo metropolitan government to work out operational details, including when to start running the facilities.

Given a rapid increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and the whole nation, it is my sincere hope that these facilities will be used without delay.

I believe the Odaiba facilities, named The Nippon Foundation Disaster Emergency Support Center, will help the nation’s capital combat not only a second and third wave of coronavirus infections with no vaccine or effective treatments developed yet, but also cope with a major disaster such as a huge earthquake, typhoon or other natural calamity hitting Japan simultaneously with a new outbreak of COVID-19.

The foundation is undertaking this project, first announced in early April, as the first of our three-phase initiatives in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the second phase, we have launched a 500 million yen project to help transport to and from hospital coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19. 

We have teamed up with major taxi operator Nihon Kotsu Co. to lease up to 100 specially designed vehicles for transporting COVID-19 patients with slight symptoms to and from hospital. To prevent airborne droplets from the patient reaching the driver, the interior of the vehicle is divided into two compartments. A fan will continuously extract air from the rear compartment.

The foundation has also distributed taxi vouchers worth up to one million yen to each of 37 medical institutions in Tokyo that are treating COVID-19 patients. They are being used by doctors and nurses when they go to and from hospital.

As our third anti-COVID-19 project, the foundation has accepted requests from 128 emergency medical service hospitals in 36 prefectures across the nation, now taking care of severely ill and high-risk patients, for a total of 4.98 billion yen in grants to help them beef up facilities and equipment.

The money will be used to purchase ventilators, negative pressure clean booths, infection control clean partitions, defibrillators, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing equipment, antigen test devices, satellite antenna systems for disaster management, and mobile radiography equipment as well as “Doctor Cars” (a.k.a. “rapid response cars”) with a full inventory of medical equipment and supplies, including ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

The Nippon Foundation is now accepting donations from the public to support these initiatives to combat the unprecedented pandemic. With administrative or other indirect costs being borne by us, the entire amount of all donations received will be used to support the activities of doctors, nurses, volunteers, and others engaged in front-line activities to mitigate the spread of infection.

For details regarding donations, please refer to The Nippon Foundation’s website



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Prefabricated houses with a total of 140 20-square-meter air-conditioned private rooms built in a parking lot of the Museum of Maritime Science. Ten out of the 140 rooms will have two beds so as to accommodate members of the same family who have contracted the virus.  
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:58 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
Tokyo Governor Koike Visits Facilities The Nippon Foundation Built for COVID-19 Patients [2020年07月20日(Mon)]
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With Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (right) on July 1, 2020, when she visited makeshift facilities The Nippon Foundation has built in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay for coronavirus patients with minor or no symptoms.


I had the pleasure of accompanying Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike when she visited makeshift facilities The Nippon Foundation has almost completed in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay for coronavirus patients with minor or no symptoms. 

During the July 1 inspection tour, she went through 100 10-square-meter private rooms built in The Nippon Foundation Para Arena, a dedicated para sports gymnasium, and prefabricated buildings with 140 20-square-meter private rooms and a large air-conditioned tent with 60 beds, both built in a parking lot of the adjacent Museum of Maritime Science.

In the July 5 Tokyo gubernatorial election, Ms. Koike was re-elected for a second term by garnering about 3.66 million votes, or about 60% of the total ballots cast. Polls by media organizations showed that 70% to 80% of voters supported her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, contributing largely to her election victory.

During her visit to Odaiba, wearing a green and gray anti-disaster windbreaker, she closely inspected the facilities, which I took as a sign of her determination to do everything possible to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a press conference, Ms. Koike pointed out that the number of novel coronavirus cases in Tokyo, including those with no symptoms, was on the rise again, and expressed her appreciation to the foundation for providing such facilities at this critical moment. “We need to remain vigilant against the further spread of the disease,” she added.

I told the reporters that the foundation initiated the support in the belief that “providing is preventing,” but it now seemed possible the facilities will have to be used.

After their completion, we are turning over the facilities to the Tokyo metropolitan government, which will use them for COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic or display only mild symptoms in a bid to free up hospital beds for severely ill and high-risk patients. The contracts the metropolitan government has had with hotels to accommodate patients with no symptoms have been expiring, so I expect the facilities will be used for them.

If COVID-19 cases were to spike in a second or third wave of infections, we will ready more beds in the large air-conditioned tent. Out of the 140 prefabricated private rooms, 10 will have two beds in order to accommodate multiple family members who have contracted the virus.


2.jpg Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and I speak to reporters at a facility The Nippon Foundation has built in Tokyo for COVID-19 patients.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:47 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Use 118 Million Yen Donated by Seven & i to Support Hospitals Combating COVID-19 [2020年07月16日(Thu)]
The Nippon Foundation has announced that it will earmark over 118 million yen (US$1.1 million) donated by Seven & i Holdings Co. for supporting emergency medical service hospitals all over Japan fighting COVID-19.

The grant will be used as part of the foundation’s three-year, 5 billion-yen initiative to provide the hospitals with respirators and other medical equipment, and personal protective gear for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, as well as to repair and improve their facilities.

Totaling 118,295,483 yen, the donation was collected from customers of the retail group’s 7-Eleven convenience stores, Ito-Yokado supermarkets, department stores, restaurants and other services across the country from mid-April to the end of May.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my wholehearted gratitude to every one of those donors for their generosity.

Professor Akihito Nakai of Nippon Medical School Tamanagayama Hospital (Tama City, Tokyo) welcomed the announcement by saying: “Despite some confusion at the initial stage of the pandemic, my colleagues on the front line have now united to battle what can be called a national crisis. From here on, as people are called on to adapt to what will become the ‘new normal,’ it is most urgent for hospitals to get better prepared for providing ‘With COVID-19’ emergency medical service. I hope this donation will help ensure that patients are taken care of securely and comfortably.” His hospital is one of the first four to which the foundation is starting to furnish this assistance.

Out of the 139 emergency hospitals designated by the Japanese Association for Acute Medicine (JAAM) across Japan, the foundation’s support will be provided based upon the request of institutions now looking after COVID-19 in-patients with severe to moderate symptoms or proactively treating out-patients with minor symptoms.

In early to mid-April, when COVID-19 cases surged in Japan, there was growing concern about the possible collapse of the nation’s healthcare system as doctors, nurses and other personnel came under heavy pressure due to a serious shortage of personal protective gear such as masks, gloves and gowns, and medical equipment. 

It is my sincere hope that our assistance will help emergency service hospitals in Japan to be better prepared not only for a second and third wave of coronavirus infections with no vaccine or effective treatments yet developed, but also for a major disaster such as a huge earthquake, typhoon or other natural calamity hitting Japan simultaneously with a new outbreak of COVID-19.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 12:07 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
MetLife Foundation Donates $1 Million to Help Facilities for the Elderly Across Japan [2020年06月04日(Thu)]
MetLife Foundation, the philanthropic arm of MetLife Inc. of the United States, has donated $1 million (about 100 million yen) to The Nippon Foundation to support hospices and home-care nursing centers across Japan in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nippon Foundation will utilize the grant to support approximately 6,800 beneficiaries, including nurses and caregivers in hospices and home-care nursing centers across Japan, a joint announcement said on May 29. 

Specifically, the donation will help to maintain a safe work environment through the provision of masks, sanitizers and other PPE (personal protective equipment) to “protect some of the community’s most vulnerable members and those who care for them.”

Nurses and care-givers have been under stress due to a dire shortage of PPE amid the coronavirus pandemic, so this donation is extremely welcome. It will also be used to help reinforce staffing for nurses and care-givers.

Mr. Eric Clurfain, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MetLife Insurance K.K. (MetLife Japan), said: “We hope this donation will help those who are struggling under these difficult conditions, as well as the exceptional people in nursing care who work to support them.”

On behalf of The Nippon Foundation, I extended my wholehearted gratitude to the MetLife group, adding that the donation “will be used to secure resources to support the fight against the coronavirus and provide the necessary supplies for healthcare workers who are caring for the elderly.”
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:06 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Provide 5 Billion Yen Assistance to Hospitals Fighting COVID-19 [2020年06月01日(Mon)]
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Media covering a “Doctor Car” that The Nippon Foundation will provide to emergency medical service hospitals taking care of COVID-19 patients.


Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for Tokyo and four other prefectures on May 25, following a noticeable decline in the number of novel coronavirus cases in the capital and other parts of the country. The state of emergency has now been lifted across the nation. 

However, I believe firmly we need to prepare not only for a second and third wave of coronavirus infections with no vaccine or effective treatments developed yet, but also for a major disaster such as a huge earthquake, typhoon or other natural calamity hitting Japan simultaneously with a new outbreak of COVID-19.

Toward this goal, I announced at a press conference on May 26 that The Nippon Foundation will undertake a five billion yen, three-year initiative to financially support 139 emergency medical service hospitals now taking care of severely ill and high-risk patients across Japan.

Under the Fire Service Act, medical facilities in Japan are divided into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary-care facilities refer to clinics without beds that are assigned to treat patients with mild symptoms who can be safely discharged home, while secondary-care facilities are assigned to provide care for patients with moderate symptoms who require admission to a regular inpatient bed.

Tertiary-care facilities are emergency medical service centers, which are assigned to provide care for patients with severe, life-threatening symptoms who require admission to the intensive care unit and/or undergoing emergency surgery.

Out of some 300 tertiary-care facilities across Japan, the foundation plans to assist 139 Japanese Association for Acute Medicine (JAAM)-designated emergency medical service hospitals that are currently looking after coronavirus patients.

The foundation will start furnishing this assistance by the end of June based on requests hospitals submit to a third-party commission of experts for items they need. Already, we have chosen four hospitals−Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Medical Hospital (Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo), Nippon Medical School Tamanagayama Hospital (Tama City, Tokyo), Yokohama Rosai Hospital (Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture), and Saiseika Senri Hospital (Suita City, Osaka Prefecture)−to provide respirators and personal protective gear for medical professionals, as well as a “Doctor Car” (a.k.a. “rapid response car”) with a full inventory of medical equipment and supplies. I hope these hospitals serve as model cases for other institutions.

In early to mid-April when COVID-19 cases spiked in Japan, there was growing concern about the possible collapse of the nation’s healthcare system as doctors, nurses and medical staff came under heavy stress with a dire shortage of personal protective gear such as masks, gloves and gowns, and medical equipment.

To help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, The Nippon Foundation came up with its first initiative in April to set up a makeshift facility in Tokyo with up to 600 beds for patients with minor or no symptoms. Then, earlier this month, we unveiled a second project to help transport coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19, to and from hospital. The latest initiative is thus the third in our series of responses to the pandemic.

Japan has so far been spared the kind of explosive surge seen in the United States, parts of Europe and Latin America, and elsewhere, with 16,968 cases and 898 deaths as of May 31, according to media reports.

I believe this is thanks to the efforts of Japanese people to reduce people-to-people contact, with a focus on avoiding the “three Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings, and observe other guidelines issued by the central and local governments.

I told the press conference on May 26 that Japan will be commended highly by the international community for its efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Emergency medical services form an essential part of the nation’s response to major disasters, focusing on saving lives that can be saved. Through these efforts, I sincerely hope that we will be able to see what will become the “new normal” for emergency medical services: their preparedness to handle a natural disaster (or even multiple disasters) while also coping with a second or third wave of COVID-19.  

Details of The Nippon Foundation’s first and second initiatives in response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be seen HERE:


E38388E38299E382AFE382BFE383BCE382ABE383BC.jpg
A “Doctor Car” with a full inventory of medical equipment and supplies takes a team of doctors, nurses and paramedics to treat a patient prior to transport to a hospital.

E38388E38299E382AFE382BFE383BCE382ABE383BCEFBC88E3838FE383AAE382A2E383BCEFBC89.jpg
The foundation will provide a “Doctor Car,” personal protective gear, medical equipment and other assistance to 139 JAAM-designated emergency medical service hospitals across Japan that are treating coronavirus patients.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:06 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Help Transport COVID-19 Patients, Medical Professionals [2020年05月26日(Tue)]
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Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on May 20, 2020, I announce The Nippon Foundation’s second initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this time to help transport doctors and nurses, and patients with minor symptoms, to and from hospital.

The Nippon Foundation has announced a new, one billion yen initiative to help transport to and from hospital coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19. 

I made the announcement at a press conference on May 20 when there were still about 4,500 COVID-19 patients across Japan, including 1,500 in Tokyo, who were being looked after in hospital. This was the foundation’s second project in response to the pandemic, following the one we announced in April to set up a makeshift facility in Tokyo with up to 600 beds for patients who are asymptomatic or exhibit only minor symptoms.

Under the new initiative, the foundation will first distribute taxi vouchers worth up to one million yen to each of about 200 medical institutions in Tokyo that are treating COVID-19 patients. They will be used by doctors and nurses when they go to and from hospital over a three-month period, starting June 2.

Second, we will team up with major taxi operator Nihon Kotsu Co. to lease up to 100 specially designed vehicles for 10 months from early June for transporting COVID-19 patients with slight symptoms to and from hospital and other accommodations where they are being taken care of.

To prevent airborne droplets from the patient reaching the driver, the interior of the vehicle, which is based on a Toyota JPN Taxi, is divided into two compartments. The front compartment is for the driver and the rear compartment is for the COVID-19 patient. A fan will continuously extract air from the rear compartment.

The costs of outfitting and leasing the vehicles, hiring drivers (their remuneration will include hazard pay) and other expenses are estimated to total 800 million yen. Drivers will be assigned by Nihon Kotsu from among those of its employees who agree to transport COVID-19 patients with minor symptoms. 

Donations made to the foundation by some 16,000 people since early April in response to the coronavirus outbreak, totaling about 860 million yen as of May 20, will cover most of the costs. 

I might note that a great majority of the donors requested that the money be used to support doctors and nurses who are looking after COVID-19 patients, night and day. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my wholehearted gratitude to them for their contributions.

After scrutinizing what we do in Tokyo, which has the largest number of confirmed cases of the disease and the highest hospital occupancy rate, the foundation will consider providing similar assistance to other parts of the country.

On May 25, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he was lifting the state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, as well as the northernmost island prefecture of Hokkaido, thus ending the state of emergency nationwide. As he noted, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan.

But as an old saying goes, providing is preventing. I believe we need to prepare for a second and third wave of COVID-19 infections, given that no vaccine or proven drug treatments have yet been developed. 

We are determined to help doctors, nurses and other professionals, who have saved so many lives from the disease by risking their own, continue to perform their crucially important mission. 

E382B7E38299E383A3E3838FE3829AE383B3E382BFE382AFE382B7E383BC.jpg
The Nippon Foundation will lease up to 100 of these specially 
designed vehicles for transporting COVID-19 patients with minor 
symptoms. The taxi features separate compartments for driver and 
rear-seat passenger to prevent airborne droplets circulating within the vehicle.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:16 | IN THE CAUSE OF LIFE | URL | comment(0)
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