Japan to raise COVID-19 hospital capacity 30% by end of November

Japan plans to increase hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients by the end of November to accommodate around 36,000 people, up 30% compared to the level amid a virus resurgence this summer, government sources said Wednesday.

The government measures to combat COVID-19, which will be finalized on Friday, also include plans to provide coronavirus vaccines for children under the age of 12. In the event of another wave of infections, free tests will be conducted for asymptomatic cases, the sources said.

During the peak of the nation’s fifth wave of infections this summer, around 28,000 people needed to be hospitalized.

From December, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will release the bed occupancy ratio at each medical institution every month. Hospitals are required to input such data into the ministry’s system if they hope to receive government subsidies, according to the sources.

In the event a coronavirus variant three times more contagious than an existing strain spreads in Japan, the central government will urge areas not severely affected to dispatch medical personnel to support areas where infections surge, they said.

It will also request events to be canceled and eateries to temporarily close, in addition to urging operators to reduce transportation services and people to refrain from going out to curb infections, the sources said.

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