Photo/Illutration Members of the Self-Defense Forces unload items at Toyoko Inn Tokyo-eki Shinohashimae, where COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms will stay, on April 7 in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward. (Hiroki Endo)

The operator of a hotel chain in Tokyo has agreed to accommodate COVID-19 patients recuperating with mild symptoms of the disease at the behest of the Tokyo metropolitan government.

About 100 patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus are expected to be transferred to Toyoko Inn Tokyo-eki Shinohashimae in the capital’s Chuo Ward, starting from April 7.

About a dozen patients are expected to check in the hotel on the first day.

Only those whose fever has not risen above 37.5 degrees in the previous 24 hours and whose respiratory symptoms have improved will be allowed to recuperate at the facility operated by Toyoko Inn Co.

Private companies' emergency vehicles will be used to transport individuals from hospitals to the hotel.

The cost of staying at the hotel will be covered by taxpayers’ money.

To prevent the infection from spreading, the hotel has set up different entrances--one for patients, and a side entrance for medical staff, government officials and hotel employees.

Patients will receive meals at the front desk. An announcement will state when meals are ready so as to avoid contact between patients and employees.

A doctor will be on stand-by during the day. 

At night, a system will be set up in cooperation with the Tokyo Medical Association to ensure doctors are on call to respond to a sudden turn in a patient’s condition.

Two nurses from Tokyo metropolitan hospitals will stay in the hotel. They will contact patients by phone each day to inquire about their health condition, and provide assistance if any of them develops irregular body temperature.

Patients will take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test twice during their stay. Patients will be allowed to leave the hotel only after the test results come back negative twice, Tokyo government officials said.

As of April 6, 1,034 people with the novel coronavirus had been hospitalized in Tokyo, putting a severe strain on the number of available hospital beds in the capital.

Tokyo authorities are hoping that more hotels will agree to accommodate patients with mild symptoms. It aims to secure at least 1,000 beds for such temporary stays so hospitals have a sufficient number of beds for patients with severe symptoms.