Photo/Illutration Staff carry a mannequin standing in for a patient on a stretcher during a demonstration at a new hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients in Fuchu, western Tokyo, during a media preview on Dec. 2. (Ryo Kato)

Tokyo on Dec. 2 unveiled a hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients, the first for the purpose run by the metropolitan government.

The facility in Fuchu, western Tokyo, will mainly accept patients with mild and moderate symptoms. It will also take in patients who cannot be immediately admitted to other medical institutions, such as those who cannot care for themselves, or cannot speak Japanese or English, to reduce the burden on other medical institutions. 

Media were given a preview of the building on Dec. 2 ahead of its opening on Dec. 16.

It will begin operating with 32 beds and expand its capacity to up to 100 beds as the need arises.

To protect health care workers against droplet infections, patients brought to the hospital will be carried to a room on a stretcher that can cover the upper part of their body.

The air pressure at the hospital's nursing station has also been increased to prevent nurses and staff from contracting the novel coronavirus through airborne transmission from patients’ rooms.

One challenge is securing enough personnel since caring for COVID-19 patients requires roughly twice the number of staff required to attend to patients hospitalized for other diseases.

Forty-eight nurses will be on duty when the facility opens. All will also work at eight Tokyo metropolitan hospitals with wards for COVID-19 patients.

The second to fourth floors of the five-story building will be used as wards for COVID-19 patients and operated as part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Tama Medical Center.

The facility, built by renovating the former Tokyo Metropolitan Fuchu Medical Center for the Disabled, had accommodated children with severe motor and intellectual disabilities until May.