Nikkei reported on Saturday that the Tokyo metropolitan government (TMG) is planning to boost its healthcare and testing capacities in preparation for a “second wave” of the coronavirus. A total of 44 PCR testing centers will be established across Tokyo by the end of this month in collaboration with a number of municipal governments and local doctors’ associations. The TMG is also expected to finance the procurement of reagents and other testing materials and training for lab technicians to boost PCR diagnostic capacities. It also plans to secure 700 additional hospital beds so that as many as 4,000 COVID-19 patients can be hospitalized throughout Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s Nikkei front-paged Japanese pharmaceutical company Takara Bio Inc.’s decision to begin marketing in late May at the earliest PCR testing kits that use saliva samples, pending approval by the Health Ministry. As patients can collect saliva samples by themselves, the use of these kits will avoid the risk of exposing healthcare practitioners to the virus when they swab patients’ throats using the traditional testing method. The company reportedly plans to produce 2 million kits per month. The daily said these new test kits will dramatically increase the nation’s PCR testing capacity.