Japan to continue elderly care subsidies after COVID downgrade

Japan's health ministry plans to continue providing subsidies for providers of elderly care services after the legal classification of COVID-19 is downgraded.

COVID-19 is currently classified as a category two disease -- the second most severe level. It will be downgraded on May 8 to the lowest tier of category five, which includes seasonal influenza.

The ministry says measures to prevent coronavirus infections will be necessary at care facilities for elderly people who are still at risk of becoming seriously ill.

Current subsidies include those for costs related to securing supplies for anti-infection measures, as well as hiring necessary personnel. Assistance is available for employees who use self-testing kits.

The ministry also provides care facilities with a subsidy of up to 300,000 yen, or about 2,200 dollars, for each elderly person who cannot be hospitalized and needs treatment.

The ministry plans to request care facilities to work closely with medical institutions, so the elderly can be admitted to hospitals without delay, if necessary. It will also call on care homes to promote vaccinations, if the residents want them.

The ministry will release the plan this month at the earliest after coordinating with related organizations.