COVID in Japanese to Be Nothing New from May 8

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

COVID-19, which appeared in 2019, will from May 8 no longer be referred to in Japanese as a disease caused by a new type of coronavirus.

The change will coincide with the government’s downgrading of the disease to Category V, which is the same level as seasonal influenza.

The current name for COVID-19 in Japanese literally means “novel coronavirus infectious disease.” The Infectious Disease Control Law has classifications from Category I to V in descending order of risk. COVID-19 is in a special category that is on par with Category II.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has initiated discussions to change the Japanese name to mean “coronavirus infectious disease 2019,” which would be similar to COVID-19, which stands for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

The idea behind removing “novel” from the Japanese name is to emphasize the transition to normal times.

The ministry plans to revise the ministerial ordinance and add the new form of the name to Category V.

With the downgrade, the law on special measures for new types of influenza will also no longer apply to COVID-19, meaning emergency declarations and other similar measures cannot be enacted.