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The government is preparing to send hospital and public health nurses to Okinawa Prefecture, which has been hit by the spread of coronavirus infections, according to the health minister.

Nurses will be sent from other prefectures as a further spread of infections is expected to strain the island prefecture’s health care system in terms of hospital beds and personnel, Katsunobu Kato told reporters Monday.

On Sunday, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki asked for such assistance at a meeting with state minister of health Gaku Hashimoto.

The central government will work with the National Governors’ Association so that about 10 hospital nurses will be dispatched within a week. The number will be raised to about 50 eventually.

As for public health nurses, license holders not currently working at public health care centers will be mobilized through the governors’ group and the Japanese Association for Infectious Diseases.

The health ministry will also consider sending to Okinawa medical workers who can handle extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, life support systems and taking COVID-19 patients to hospitals outside the prefecture.

The scheme to dispatch public health nurses may be used for other prefectures if needed, Kato said.

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