PCR tests to detect omicron variant offered in Tokyo

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo metropolitan government building

The Tokyo metropolitan government has started offering PCR tests that can detect the omicron coronavirus variant at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health in Shinjuku Ward.

Intended for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, the new test, which uses a new reagent developed by the institute, will be administered in conjunction with testing for virus mutations including the delta variant.

The metropolitan government expects to be able to conduct 100 tests a day. It takes about 24 hours to get the results.

The new procedure will only be administered to people who test negative for the delta variant if demand for the tests exceeds capacity in the event of a surge in coronavirus cases.

If mutations unique to the omicron variant are detected in the PCR test, genome analysis will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis.

The Tokyo government also announced that it will increase the number of rooms — from 1,750 to about 3,400 — for recuperating coronavirus patients and people who need to self-isolate because of close contact with patients.

According to the metropolitan government, 85 people have been found to have had close contact with people infected with the variant, of whom 61 people are staying at such facilities.

The emergency measures were compiled at a metropolitan government meeting to discuss crisis management on Friday. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said, “utmost effort was being made to implement measures proactively.”