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Ongoing Topics

[COVID-19] Government Responses on the Coronavirus Disease 2019

April 1, 2020

Latest Information
- 25th Meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters (PM in Action) (April 1)
- Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 by Country (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website) (April 1)
- Basic Policies for Novel Coronavirus Disease Control (Summary) (March 28)
- 24th Meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters (PM in Action) (March 28)
- Expert Meeting on the Novel Coronavirus Disease Control "Analysis of the Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)and Recommendations" (Excerpt) (March 19)
- Press Conference by the Prime Minister (PM in Action) (March 17)
- Press Conference by the Prime Minister (Government Internet TV | Opening Statement) (March 14)
- The government announced its second emergency response package (Key Points) (March 10)

Press Conferences

- Press Conference by the Prime Minister
On March 14, Prime Minister Abe provided an update on the latest situation of #COVID19 in Japan. PM explained the new legislation recently enacted to respond to emergency situations as well as the government measures to strengthen medical and economic support.
If you can not view the video, click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
On February 29, Prime Minister Abe outlined the enhanced government measures, providing the rationale behind the request for school closures. He also explained additional measures to reduce burdens of parents, schools, medical practitioners, and caretakers as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
If you can not view the video, click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Government Responses

The government is undertaking a set of measures to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), following the Basic Policies for Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus, decided by the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters on February 25.

<<Basic Policies (Summary|Full Text)>>

Key Objectives
- To end the epidemic at the early stages while suppressing the rate of increase inpatients and minimizing the scale of the epidemic.
- To minimize the incidence of severe cases.
- To minimize the impact on society and economy of Japan.

Purpose and Rationale of the Government Responses
A number of quarantine measures have been taken against the novel coronavirus disease, but patients with no apparent routes of transmission have been reported sporadically in several regions of Japan, and in some regions, small clusters of patients have been confirmed. Nevertheless, at this time, there are no regions where a large-scale spread of the infection has been identified.

In order to end this epidemic as soon as possible, it is extremely important to prevent one cluster from developing another cluster, and the comprehensive measures must be taken. It is also significantly important to curtail the rate of increase in patients as much as possible through these preventative measures, in order to control the epidemic in Japan.

Moreover, this is also the time to establish and improve arrangements including the health system to deliver necessary medical care especially for the severe patients, to prepare for the possible increase of patients in Japan.
Basic Concept of New Coronavirus Measures
–Prevention of group infections
In many of the cases, the novel coronavirus does not transmit from infected persons to those around them. However, there exist several cases in which it is suspected that a single person spread the infection to many others (cases associated with Yakata-bune houseboat and fintness centers). Furthermore, there have been reported small clusters of patient outbreaks in some areas.

According to the analysis of the number of secondary transmission caused by a single infected persons, based on the relevant cases, it has been revealed that the number of secondary transmissions is significant in cases that the root of infections is in a closed space (with poor ventilation) (Graph below).
Basic Concept of New Coronavirus Measures

It is advised to refrain from gathering in group in spaces in which people are likely to come into contact with each other under poor ventilation. In cases holding an event, given that there is a high risk of infection at places with poor ventilation or in an environment in which people speak to each other at close range, we ask the respective organizers to review the necessity of holding the event, no matter how big or small, and make utmost efforts such as avoiding creating a space with poor ventilation as much as possible when holding the event.

[Key Measures]
― PCR Screening
― School Closures
― Social Welfare Facilities for the Elderly

The rationale and structure of conducting PCR screening in Japan

The government will ensure the sufficient PCR screening capacity so that all patients can receive PCR tests when doctors deem necessary.

The PCR screening capacity has reached around 6,000 samples per day with the cooperation of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and quarantine stations, as well as Public Health Institutes, private-sector screening companies, and universities. It is expected to exceed 8,000 per day by the end of March.

PCR screening is now covered by health care insurance so as to facilitate the necessary tests for patients. Those who consult the Call Centers for Japanese Returnees and Potential Contacts (available 24 hours) and for whom it is deemed necessary to conduct screening by the respective outpatient facility for returnees and potential contacts, relayed by the call center, are eligible to request a test directly from one of the private-sector screening institutions without going through a public health center.

When medical doctors find necessary to conduct a PCR test, patients will be referred to outpatient facilities for returnees and potential contacts, and undergo screening based on the determination made by the doctors.

Aiming to prevent the refusal of test requests due to limited local screening capacity, the government will more closely facilitate the process to ensure that each area can conduct the necessary tests by sharing diagnostic reagents among wider areas.

At the same time, new rapid diagnostic test kits have been under development that can significantly shorten testing time. The aim is to start using them at medical sites within March.


PCR Testing System Covered By Medical Insurance

(Reasons for requesting possible patients refraining from immediately consulting medical institutions)
First and foremost, most of the symptoms of a common cold, fever, lassitude, or difficulty in breathing, at this moment, are being caused by diseases other than the novel coronavirus disease, such as influenza. If a cold or influenza is suspected, it is advised to consult with a family doctor or other doctors nearby as usual.

Meanwhile, suspected patients of novel coronavirus are visiting outpatient facilities for returnees and potential contacts referred by the Call Centers for Japanese Returnees and Potential Contacts; when a person is not actually infected, visiting those medical institutions, which have outpatient facilities, without proper consultation, just because he or she is concerned about having an infection, will increase the risk of infection.

In the event of concern over infection by the novel coronavirus, it is advised to consult with the Call Centers. The list of medical institutions that have the aforementioned outpatient facilities is not disclosed. This decision is based on lessons learned during the 2009 novel influenza pandemic whereby it took time to provide care to those who needed urgent attention as many people visited certain medical institutions in some prefectures. This is a necessary response to prioritize the provision of care to those who need urgent attention (i.e. patients with severe symptoms who need intensive care). The government asks for the understanding of the public.

(The reason for the initial negative results of the PCR tests turning positive (in such cases as the cruise ship))
There are several reasons behind the cases that some passengers have tested positive after disembarking from the cruise ship. For instance, it can be considered that, even if a person is infected with the novel coronavirus, the person might test negative as the number of virus particles has not increased enough to exceed the minimum limit of detection at the initial stage of infection. Therefore, when taking the test again after the number of virus particle has sufficiently increased, that person could be tested positive.

Temporary school closures

Patients with no apparent routes of transmission are being reported sporadically in several areas of Japan. In order to end this epidemic as soon as possible, it is extremely important to prevent clusters of patients from emerging and one cluster from developing another, as outlined in the Basic Policies for Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus compiled on February 25 based on expert assessment. The coming one to two weeks are extremely critical.

The routes of transmission are generally through droplets and contact. There is a higher risk of infections in places such as schools, where people spend long hours in groups, on a daily basis. While it has been reported that the risks of developing severe symptoms are particularly high among the elderly, there have also been cases of infections among children.

To prevent infections among children, we must reduce the risk of infection across the country, in addition to these few areas. Therefore, prioritizing the health and safety of children above all, we have requested all elementary, junior high and other schools across the country to close temporarily until spring break.

(Nursery schools and kindergartens)
Nursery schools and kindergartens will be open as usual.

They may be closed temporarily if any child attending a nursery school or kindergarten, their staff, or others contract the novel coronavirus, or if local governments or relevant authorities determine that the infections are spreading in the surrounding area. Even in such cases, the Government will ask that alternative measures be taken, including visits to children’s homes by staff or early childhood educators for short-term childcare.

Please also note that nursery schools and kindergartens may be closed temporarily at the discretion of the schools, etc. if many children, staff, or others contract a normal seasonal flu.

Prevention measures taken at social welfare facilities for elderly people

The risk of developing severe symptoms is particularly high among the elderly and patients with underlying diseases. It is important to cut off the transmission of the virus, by not bringing the virus into nor spreading it at elderly care and other facilities. Therefore, the government is working with local municipalities, which have the authority to designate or supervise the respective facilities, and relevant groups, to ensure that preventive measures are thoroughly implemented, providing the points of attention to these facilities nationwide.    

The government urges facilities to take steps for cutting off the transmission, in accordance with the infection control manual released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, such as exercising coughing manners, including wearing of facial masks, and hygiene by handwashing or use of hand sanitizer not only by the elderly and staff but also visitors and contractors; and thoroughly ensuring the wearing of masks, aprons, and gloves during service, handwashing before feeding care, and providing meals with clean plates.     

In light of the status of the novel coronavirus outbreaks, we are strongly requesting various measures including:
  1. Ensuring staff measure their body temperature before going to work, and if they have a fever or other symptoms, that they refrain from going to work;
  2. Visits are preferably restricted, except for emergencies and if truly necessary, and should such a visit take place, visitors’ temperatures must be measured and their visits must be refused in cases of fever; and
  3. Pick-up and delivery from contractors and others must be made only in certain parts of the facilities such as the entrance, and when entering the building, their temperature must be measured, and should a fever be found, their entry must be denied.
Press Conferences

(the Prime Minister)
- March 24 (Tue) (Opening Statement)(PM in Action)
- March 17 (Tue) (Opening Statement) (PM in Action)
- March 14 (Sat) (Opening Statement Transcript | Government InternetTV)
- March 4 (Wed) (Opening Statement) (PM in Action)
- February 29 (Sat) (Opening Statement Transcript | Government InternetTV)

(the Chief Cabinet Secretary (From January 24))
- Government Internet TV (English)

(the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare)
- March 19     (Thu) (1)
- March 17     (Tue) (1)
- March 13     (Fri)   (1)
- March 10     (Tue) (1)
- March 6       (Fri)   (1)
- March 1       (Sat)  (1)
- February 28 (Fri)   (1)
- February 25 (Tue)  (1)

(Other Press Conferences)
- March 17 (1 | 2 | 3)  
- March 10 (1 | 2 | 3)
- February 24 (1) (Expert Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease Control)
- February 23 (1 | Handout (in pdf))
- February 21 (1 | 2 | 3 | 4) (the Situation in the Cruise Ship "Diamond Princess")

<<Prime Minister In Action(Statements of the Prime Minister)>>
The Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters
- Twenty Second Meeting (March 20, 2020)
- Twenty First Meeting (March 20, 2020)
- Twentieth Meeting (March 18, 2020)
- Nineteenth Meeting (March 10, 2020)
- Eighteenth Meeting (March 7, 2020)
- Seventeenth Meeting (March 5, 2020)
- Sixteenth Meeting (March 1, 2020)
- Fifteenth Meeting (Feb 27, 2020)
- Fourteenth Meeting (Feb 26, 2020)
- Thirteenth Meeting (Feb 25, 2020)
- Twelfth Meeting (Feb 23, 2020)
- Eleventh Meeting (Feb 18, 2020)
- Tenth Meeting (Feb 16, 2020)
- Ninth Meeting (Feb 14, 2020)
- Eighth Meeting (Feb 13, 2020)
- Seventh Meeting (Feb 12, 2020)
- Sixth Meeting (Feb 6, 2020)
- Fifth Meeting (Feb 5, 2020)
- Fourth Meeting (Feb 1, 2020)
- Third Meeting (Jan 31, 2020)
- Second Meeting (Jan 30, 2020)
- First Meeting (Jan 30, 2020)

(Expert Meeting)
- First Meeting (Feb 16, 2020)

Ministerial Meeting Related to Countermeasures Related to the Novel Coronavirus
- First Meeting (Jan 24, 2020)


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