• Kyodo


Shipping container hotels are helping local authorities battle the novel coronavirus pandemic, offering locations where patients can be tested.

These small, one-unit hotels — called “rescue hotels” by Develop Co., a land developer based in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture — are mobile and easy to install, and can also serve as a holding area for medical workers.

Company representatives said the individual units are useful in ensuring that people avoid the “Three Cs” of being in confined and crowded spaces and in close contact, in order to to prevent the spread of the virus.

When natural disasters strike, the more than 500 shipping container hotels — usually used as accommodations — are sent to the most affected areas and used as “rescue hotels.”

Each repurposed container is like a hotel room, with a bed and a bath unit, allowing evacuees to settle in quickly instead of waiting for temporary housing to be constructed.

In April, Develop sent 50 of these container hotels to the city of Nagasaki, where a docked Italian cruise ship saw an outbreak of COVID-19 that infected more than 100 of its crew members.

The hotels, which were deployed from Chiba Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture, were used as holding areas for onsite healthcare workers.

In June they were used similarly in the city of Mitaka in Tokyo.

Chiyoda Ward in the capital also used some container hotels from Develop that month to conduct polymerase chain reaction tests to check for novel coronavirus infections, switching from conducting the tests under an outdoor tent to take advantage of air conditioning amid the summer heat.

“Not too many people can fit in our hotels, but we would like them to be used as headquarters during emergencies,” a company official said.

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