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Japan to scrap public aid for COVID-19 treatment

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Tokyo: The Japanese government has decided to end its subsidies for COVID-19 drugs and hospitalisations next month, local media reported.

The plan leaves patients paying for COVID-19 treatment out of pocket at rates based on their incomes, as is the case for ordinary medical services in the country, Jiji Press reported on Tuesday, citing government officials.

The government began fully covering expenses for COVID-19 drugs with public funds in 2021, which was scaled down last October when patients started paying between 3,000 yen (about 20 U.S. dollars) and 9,000 yen depending on their age and income.

Under the new plan, molnupiravir, an oral treatment to prevent serious symptoms, is set to cost over 90,000 yen per prescription, or about 28,000 yen for people who pay 30 percent under public insurance, the report said.

Subsidies for hospitalisation costs, currently set at 10,000 yen per month, will also end next month.

The government will also scrap payments to large hospitals that secure beds for COVID-19 patients, which range from 29,000 yen to 174,000 yen depending on the state of infections, the report added. (1 Japanese yen equals 0.0069 U.S. dollars).

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