Japan to narrow scope of COVID-19 case counting

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters online on Monday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government is considering narrowing the scope of COVID-19 cases that are required to be reported, to reduce burdens on medical workers, informed sources said Monday.

The government plans to limit the scope of patients whose detailed information must be reported to elderly people and others with underlying conditions who are at high risks of developing severe symptoms, the sources said.

For young and other low-risk people, the government plans to ask only designated hospitals to report cases so that infection trends can be observed at fixed points, the sources said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is slated to announce this new policy as early as Wednesday, a government source said.

COVID-19 is currently classified as a Category II equivalent under the infectious disease law, and the names and diagnostic information of all patients must be reported.

Local governments and others have called for reviewing the counting system to reduce burdens on hospitals and public health centers grappling with the seventh wave of infections in the country.

The government plans to maintain the Category II classification, while reviewing individual items that are required to be reported, the sources said.

The review will also likely include the coverage of medical treatment and other expenses related to COVID-19 that are currently fully paid for by public funds.

Kishida is also expected to announce a plan to relax his country’s COVID-19-linked border controls further.

On Monday, he told reporters online that he will swiftly present a direction for a shift to a new phase in the country’s COVID-19 fight based on opinions from experts and local governments.