Japan Declares It Will Handle COVID-19 Like a Seasonal Flu

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan announced on Friday that he had instructed his cabinet to reclassify COVID-19, placing it in the same category as seasonal flu, rubella, and chickenpox in spring.

“Today, we held a press conference on the discussion on revising the new coronavirus infectious disease into category 5,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.

“In order to further advance the efforts of ‘living with Corona’ and restore Japan to a state of normalcy, we will transition the various policies and measures to date in phases,” Kishida said.

In Japan, Covid-19 is currently listed as “Category 2: Very Dangerous” together with tuberculosis, avian flu, and diphtheria.

“COVID-19 is currently classified as “equivalent to category 2,” requiring that hospitals and clinics report the names of infected patients and the details of their diagnosis before making recommendations regarding hospitalization. The soaring numbers of people infected in Japan’s seventh coronavirus wave have increased the administrative burden on the medical front line, leading to regional medical associations and the National Governors’ Association to repeatedly call for a review of the system,” Nippon.com reported.

The outlet added that experts have proposed that COVID-19 be reclassified as a “Category 5: Diseases for which outbreaks and spread should be prevented,” similar to seasonal flu, which would restrict reporting to only those at high risk of developing severe symptoms or restrict data collection to only patients diagnosed at designated medical facilities.

Source: Nippon.com

More from the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan:

In addition, about vaccine, we will carry out based on Preventive Vaccinations Law regardless of review of typology. First of all, I would like to ask as many people as possible to get vaccinated against the vaccines that are currently being implemented. We are also considering how future vaccinations should be, and we will reach a conclusion. Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare and Minister Goto will explain the details again. This is the result of what was confirmed at the previous meeting.

(Recognition of the current situation of new coronavirus infections and the impact of the revision to category 5 on people’s lives)

First, the minister in charge will explain the details. Regarding the eighth wave, as I just said, we are currently doing our utmost to overcome this eighth wave, and we will continue to do our utmost. On top of that, we have been moving forward with the transition to with COVID-19, but in order to restore Japan to normal times, we should think about specific responses, the responses I mentioned earlier. In principle, we have confirmed that we will review the classification of the Infectious Diseases Control Law this spring and proceed with coordination to implement this. Regarding the sense of schedule, we will proceed with things with the sense of schedule that I just mentioned. I would like Minister Kato and Minister Goto to explain the details in the future.

(Regarding the timing of revision to Category 5)

I just confirmed that the timing is spring. As for the specific date, it is also related to preparations at the site, so I would like to continue making adjustments and confirm the date as soon as possible. From now on, the infectious disease subcommittee will also be held for next week. I would like to check it out.

(Reasons for making decisions at this time)

It is basically as I mentioned earlier. However, this discussion has been going on since last year, and there have been discussions that a decision should be made as soon as possible. And last week, volunteer experts also showed us their thoughts on the position of the new corona infectious disease law. Based on this, I confirmed today the schedule for revising the classification under the Infectious Diseases Act in principle this spring.

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