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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding the Confirmation of Community Transmission of the Omicron Strain in Osaka Prefecture

December 22, 2021

[Provisional Translation]


(Regarding the confirmation of community transmission of the Omicron strain in Osaka Prefecture)

Given that no overseas travel record has been confirmed for the latest case and that public health center officials are now working to identify the source of infection, the Government has recognized that this is a case of community transmission that cannot be traced and will ensure that thorough countermeasures are taken. Considering that the Omicron strain is believed to be highly infectious and transmissible, we will implement with a sense of urgency the series of strengthened measures announced yesterday to contain infections in the country.

Specifically, we will thoroughly implement early detection by testing all domestic cases for the Omicron strain. We will also ask those who have been in close contact with persons infected with the Omicron strain to stay 14 days in designated accommodations rather than at home. Additionally, we will drastically strengthen the system for testing for the virus free of charge. All prefectures will launch a free testing program that requires no prior appointment before the year-end for those who are unable to get vaccinated. I have heard that Osaka Prefecture will be staring the program tomorrow.

With regard to orally administered therapeutics, the Government will immediately approve Mornupiravir developed by Merck, believed to be highly effective also for the Omicron strain, if endorsed at the expert committee scheduled for the day after tomorrow to discuss the matter. Then 200,000 doses of Mornupiravir will be shipped nationwide starting this coming weekend and should be ready to be administered next week. As for the medical system, we have made sufficient preparations based on the overview we presented. For the system to be promptly activated depending on the situation, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has issued a notification as of today to request that each prefecture review and strengthen the medical system under its jurisdiction. The Government will continue to take necessary measures in advance to forestall any new challenges. I sincerely ask for the cooperation of each citizen to continue to take basic measures against infection, including wearing a face mask, washing hands and avoiding the three Cs (closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places and close contact situations).

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