Japan downgrades COVID-19 to ‘seasonal flu’ status, plans to evolve from pandemic-era mandate

Japan plans to downgrade COVID-19 legal status from Class 2 disease to Class 2 disease class 5 This spring, the decision is expected to lead to significant changes to pandemic restrictions, with the government also planning to relax face mask rules.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “While promoting measures against the new coronavirus infection, we will consider specific measures to return to everyday life and gradually proceed to the next step.” announced on Friday, according to the AP. The government plans to “gradually” change the measures in place. Kishida suggested his administration would review face mask rules as well.

The new coronavirus infection is currently classified as “type 2” in Japan, and strict measures are being taken, such as restricting the movement of infected people and close contact. Such measures are more stringent than other type 2 infectious diseases such as SARS and tuberculosis.

In recent weeks, the number of daily COVID-19 cases has been declining. However, Japan still sees about 100,000 new infections every day.

Once the COVID-19 classification is downgraded, self-isolation rules and other requirements will be removed, allowing people infected with COVID-19 to seek treatment in any hospital rather than going to specialized facilities. will be

Regulatory Changes in Pandemic Era

Under current rules, the Tokyo metropolitan government can order hospitalization for suspected COVID-19. Infected individuals must report their health status if requested by the government.

Once COVID-19 is moved to Class 5, it will be treated the same as seasonal flu and quarantine rules will be repealed.

According to Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, the reclassification to Class 5 will reduce the burden on the healthcare system as more hospitals and clinics will be able to accommodate COVID-19 patients. However, he noted that reclassification also means individuals have more personal responsibility.

“With the change in classification, we will move from a system in which the government intervenes when a person tests positive, to a system in which they take necessary actions themselves, as they do when they are infected with the seasonal flu,” Kato said. Stated. Said, according to The Japan Times. “It would be a big change. The fundamental need to respond to this disease remains the same.”

Japan currently recommends the use of masks indoors, with the only exception if people keep a distance of 2 meters from each other. increase.

Kato said the administration will soon begin discussions on relaxing mask rules. However, “details have not yet been finalized.”

A change in the COVID-19 classification could also mean that foreigners can enter Japan without undergoing a PCR test or quarantine.

Chinese tourist

At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the government would reconsider border controls for visitors. However, he expressed concern about lifting restrictions on visitors from China, where infections are surging. .

Based on estimates cited in the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Chinese Communist Party’s “Zero COVID” measures have resulted. Hundreds of millions death toll in China.

Japan has been slow to lift COVID-19 restrictions compared to other developed countries. In the United States, most pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

In the UK, where border controls have also been lifted, such restrictions were lifted last February. In South Korea, the government will soon abolish mandatory masks in indoor places.

Naveen Aslapury

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events for The Epoch Times.