COVID Suspension for Japanese Students to be Cut to 5 Days

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo

The government plans to shorten the period for which students infected with the coronavirus have to stay home, starting from May 8 when it will downgrade the legal classification of COVID-19, officials said Tuesday.

The measure will be taken in line with the government’s plan to lower the status of COVID-19 under the Infectious Diseases Law to Category V, the same level as seasonal influenza.

Currently, students at elementary, junior high and high school are asked to stay home from school for seven days after coronavirus symptoms appear, in principle. But the suspension period will be shortened to five days, which is the same as for seasonal flu.

At present, both children and adults with coronavirus symptoms are required to refrain from going out for seven days from the day after they develop symptoms, in line with the Infectious Diseases Law.

After the planned downgrade in May, the central and local governments will no longer be entitled to urge people to isolate as there will be no legal grounds for staying home for a certain period. People will be free to make their own decision on whether to go out or not.

However, the government plans to suggest “five days from the day after exhibiting symptoms” as a guideline for the period necessary for recuperation, taking into consideration expert opinions and the results of surveys on the period for which the infectious virus remains in the body.

As to pre-school children and students, the government plans to, in principle, suspend them from school for five days after symptoms appear by revising the School Health and Safety Law’s regulation for enforcement. Officials are also considering adding conditions asking that students stay home for two days and infants for three days after the fever abates.

The government plans to announce these policies soon and make them public through the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry website and other means.