People with symptoms to be prioritized for antigen testing amid shortage of kits

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto speaks to reporters on Thursday.

Medical institutions and other facilities that conduct testing for people with coronavirus symptoms will be prioritized in the distribution of antigen test kits, which are in short supply amid a surge of infections.

The new policy, announced by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto Thursday, curtails free testing for asymptomatic people and the sale of antigen test kits at regular pharmacies for the time being.

Testing for people with symptoms or other signs of infection is conducted based on the infectious disease prevention law.

The ministry has requested pharmaceutical wholesalers and other related businesses to supply antigen test kits in accordance with the new policy.

The supply of antigen test kits has been divided into three priority categories. Priority 1, the highest priority, covers testing conducted by medical institutions and local governments on people who have a fever or other signs of infection.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

On Monday, the government announced a framework in which people at low risk of developing severe symptoms are urged to see a doctor after conducting a self-test, with kits supplied by designated pharmacies. This testing also falls under Priority 1.

There will be a system in place through which medical institutions that run out of antigen test kits can contact the ministry to request supplies.

The 10-day isolation period for people who have had close contact with COVID-19 patients will be shortened for essential workers if they test negative for the virus on both the sixth and seventh days after the contact. Such testing is categorized under Priority 2.

Priority 3 covers free testing for asymptomatic people at pharmacies designated by local governments.

Priority supplies will not be available for regular pharmacies that sell antigen test kits under the new government policy.