Home » If there is no dangerous new variant, Japan plans to downgrade COVID-19 to influenza in spring | Fumio Kishida | Covid-19

If there is no dangerous new variant, Japan plans to downgrade COVID-19 to influenza in spring | Fumio Kishida | Covid-19

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[NTD Times, Beijing time, January 21, 2023]The Japanese government is reviewing and lowering the classification level of COVID-19 to be equivalent to seasonal flu, significantly loosening relevant epidemic prevention restrictions. Japanese media reported that the timing of the reduction may fall around the Golden Week holiday in May, but the premise is that no new dangerous mutant strains are prevalent.

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on January 20 that in principle, the classification of COVID-19 in the Infectious Disease Law will be lowered this spring, which will further loosen the current epidemic prevention restrictions. Relevant ministries will review and revise the epidemic prevention measures and the assistance of the public sector.

When Kishida discussed with the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Kato Katsunobu and the Minister of Economic Revitalization Shigeru Goto at the Prime Minister’s Office on January 20, he believed that as the pathogenicity of the COVID-19 virus decreased, it would be possible to lower the classification level, so he instructed the DPRK to lower the classification level. Promote related work.

In an interview after the meeting, Kishida said that in principle, the direction of downgrading to category 5 this spring is the direction, and he hopes to discuss it with experts. He also expressed his intention to loosen the standard anti-epidemic measures of wearing masks.

The Japanese government already has a plan to lower the classification level before and after the Golden Week holiday in May, but if a dangerous mutant strain is prevalent before then, the downgrade will be postponed in principle.

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Japan currently classifies COVID-19 as “equivalent to Category 2” in the Infectious Diseases Law. The Infectious Diseases Law divides infectious diseases into five categories. The second category means that the second strictest epidemic prevention measures can be taken. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) falls into this category. Seasonal influenza falls into Category 5.

If COVID-19 is downgraded to category 5, the prefectural governors will not be able to call on infected patients to recuperate and isolate at home, nor can they call on close contacts to isolate at home, etc. Not only that, at that time, governments at all levels will not be able to require stores to close early, nor will they be able to ask people to avoid going out, so the impact on social and economic activities will be greatly reduced.

The medical expenses of COVID-19 patients are currently borne by the Japanese government, but if they are downgraded to Category 5, they will generally be borne by the patients themselves. The current thinking of the Japanese government is that even after the reduction, it will temporarily maintain the public burden for a period of time, and then change it to individual burden in stages.

As for vaccinations, the Japanese government will review only the elderly and other people for public-funded vaccinations.

Kato Katsunobu is expected to propose a consultation on lowering the classification level of COVID-19 at the infectious disease department meeting of the “Health Science Council”, an advisory body to the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, on January 23.

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The Japanese government will make a decision on when to downgrade the COVID-19 classification level as early as February this year based on expert opinion.

(Reposted from Central News Agency/Responsible editor: Xia Mingyi)

URL of this article: https://www.ntdtv.com/gb/2023/01/21/a103630730.html

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