15 of Japan’s Prefectures to Provide Financial Support for Medical Institutions Treating Coronavirus Patients

Fifteen prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, planned as of Friday to pay “cooperation funds” to medical institutions for the examination and treatment of novel coronavirus patients during the year-end and New Year holidays, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

In response to record levels of infection, a number of local governments swiftly decided on Thursday and Friday to pay cooperation funds. Local authorities are rushing to secure their medical systems during the year-end and New Year holidays, when medical staff tend to be stretched thin.

The prefectures that will pay support money during the holiday period are Fukushima, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Toyama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Tottori, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Kochi and Okinawa. The Hokkaido and Wakayama prefectural governments are also considering providing such funds.

In November, the Tokyo metropolitan government announced that it would pay cooperation funds to medical institutions that examine patients during the year-end and New Year holidays. In case of hospitalization, the Tokyo government will pay ¥300,000 per day for each person with severe symptoms, and ¥70,000 per day for each person with mild or moderate symptoms.

The Tokyo metropolitan government will also pay ¥150,000 for four hours to clinics and other medical institutions that treat patients with fevers. As of Thursday, about 40% of about 3,200 medical institutions, or about 1,300 facilities, were to provide medical services during the year-end and New Year holidays.

“We’ve secured the minimum number,” a metropolitan government official said.

As the end of the year approached, some local governments in areas where the infections were spreading rapidly made swift decisions to pay cooperation funds.

The Fukushima prefectural government initially believed that doctors on duty would be able to deal with the problem. However, after a cluster occurred in Fukushima City, it was decided on Friday to pay ¥250,000 to ¥800,000 per day to medical institutions that provide medical treatment and examinations during the year-end and New Year holidays.

Chiba and Okayama prefectures decided to pay the money on Thursday, while Tochigi made the decision on Friday.

The National Governors’ Association urged the central government on Dec. 20 to provide financial assistance to local authorities that provide cooperation funds.

The central government has increased medical fees for coronavirus patients and subsidized medical institutions that have secured hospital beds. In addition, the government announced on Friday emergency assistance measures that would provide up to ¥15 million per bed to hospitals accepting patients as the infection spread.