The nation’s hospitals as a whole became unprofitable in April, hit by a decrease in visits by patients on fears of coronavirus infections, according to preliminary survey data.

The survey found that the average profitability for 1,049 hospitals across the country stood at minus 9.0 percent, down a whopping 10 percentage points from a year before.

The results were released Monday by the All Japan Hospital Association, the Japan Hospital Association and the Association of Japanese Healthcare Corporations.

“It would be impossible to respond to the novel coronavirus appropriately without emergency assistance,” the three organizations said. “Regional medical collapses are strongly feared.”

The profitability rate fell below minus 10 percent for hospitals that accepted COVID-19 patients and were forced into a temporary shutdown due to an outbreak within their facility.

The government has decided to boost medical service fee payments under the public health insurance system to help medical institutions that are treating coronavirus patients.

However, the impact of the overall revenue decline “far outweighs” the fee increases, All Japan Hospital Association President Yuji Inokuchi said.

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