Tokyo officials hope the move will help open up more hospital beds for those needing serious medical attention. 

Tokyo is quickly becoming a hot-bed for COVID-19 cases, so much so that the Prime Minister of Japan was forced to declare a state of emergency for the city. As of Monday, the city had 1,034 confirmed cases of the virus, which is a number that’s already straining Tokyo’s supply of hospital beds.

Luckily, the city of Tokyo seems to have found a way to help alleviate that pressure. On April 7 they announced that patients infected with the virus who have mild or no symptoms will be relocated to a Tokyo hotel for their period of quarantine.

Officials expect that, to start with, 100 patients will move via commercial ambulance from hospitals to the Toyoko Inn at Tokyo Station Shinohashi-mae, which will be closed to other guests. The first 10 or 20 were already relocated on April 7, with more to go over the next few days. Those who move to the hotel must have a temperature lower than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) for 24 hours, and mild to no respiratory symptoms.

A doctor will be on standby at the hotel during the day to attend to any worsening symptoms, and the city has partnered with the Tokyo Medical Association to provide a phone-in service at night for those who experience sudden changes in their condition. Two nurses from municipal hospitals will also be dispatched to the hotel on a permanent residency. They’ll call patients once per day to check on their condition, and respond to changes in body temperature as needed.

▼ The below video shows the rooms, the hotel being set up for patient care, and the Japan Self-Defense Force helping unload resources.

To prevent contamination, the patients, medical professionals, city officials, and hotel staff will all use separate entrances. Patients are asked to stay in their rooms whenever possible, but will be supplied with meals at the front desk, which they can only pick up when they’ve been notified.

Patients will not be required to pay a room fee, as they’ll be covered by public funds. According to the city, while patients are staying in the hotel, they’ll also regularly be administered polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to see if they still have the virus. If it comes back negative twice, then they’ll be discharged from the hotel and free to go home.

As previously mentioned, the city is hoping that moving low-risk patients to borrowed hotels will free up more hospital beds for patients who need more serious medical care. The city is planning to continue to work with other hotels, as well, with the ultimate goal of freeing up 1,000 hospital beds.

Since the hotel industry is being hit hard by the spread of the virus, and the fear of hospitals being overwhelmed is a top concern for many countries at this time, this plan seems to be a win-win. Hopefully it goes smoothly, so it could be a blueprint for other countries to follow in the near future.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Toyoko Inn (1, 2)
Top image: Toyoko Inn
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