Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday he will strengthen the country's medical system amid the coronavirus pandemic by increasing the number of beds designated for COVID-19 patients at public hospitals.
Speaking to reporters after his first visit to a hospital that treats COVID-19 patients after taking office Monday, Kishida said the government must prepare for the "worst-case scenario" when it comes to ramping up the medical system.
Kishida is considering increasing financial support to public hospitals in return for the hospitals' cooperation with the government's request to take in COVID-19 patients during emergencies.
According to people close to the prime minister, he wants to fund hospitals since many health care workers have quit their jobs during the pandemic.
"It is important that we create an environment for people on the job to...feel reassured. I feel we must also produce results in terms of their incomes," Kishida said after he spoke with a group of medical workers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Bokutoh Hospital in the capital's Sumida Ward.
In his first policy speech in parliament on Friday, Kishida said he wants to communicate with the public on various issues.
"I want to visit many different places and listen to voices (of the people) and work toward having that reflected in politics," he said.
While Japan has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 cases after logging record numbers of infections in late August during the country's latest wave of the virus, concerns remain over another surge.
On Saturday, the country reported 777 cases of infection, including 82 in Tokyo, its lowest daily figure this year. The nationwide daily figure surged to more than 25,000 in August.
During the fifth wave this summer, hospitals were overwhelmed, forcing many patients to recuperate at home.
During his campaigning for the Sept. 29 leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Kishida said that he will reduce the number of COVID patients who cannot receive medical treatment to zero.