Japan to consider downgrading COVID-19 to less serious infectious disease

Japan to consider downgrading COVID-19 to less serious infectious disease

SIGHTSEEING SPOT. Visitors wearing protective face masks walk under decorations for the New Year at Nakamise street leading to Senso-ji temple at Asakusa district, a popular sightseeing spot, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, January 9, 2023.

Issei Kato/REUTERS

(1st UPDATE) The policy change would mean only patients with symptoms would be advised to wear masks indoors

TOKYO, Japan – Japan will consider downgrading COVID-19 to a less serious infectious disease and relaxing its guidance that people wear masks in public indoor places as early as this spring, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday, January 20.

Speaking to media after meeting with relevant ministers, Kishida said he had instructed them to consider the specific requirements for a reclassification that would put COVID-19 in the same category as seasonal flu.

“As we try to restore the lifestyles of a normal Japan, we would like to shift various measures step by step,” Kishida told reporters.

A classification downgrade to disease category five from the current category two would end an isolation requirement for infected people and their close contacts.

In a separate measure foreshadowed by Kishida, the government would also advise only patients with symptoms to wear masks in indoor public places, whereas currently it urges everyone to do so.

The government last revised coronavirus measures in May. It said then that people no longer had to wear masks when outside as long as appropriate social distance was maintained. Even so, the vast majority of people in Japan are still wearing masks in public, both outdoors and indoors. – Rappler.com

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