Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding the Discussion toward Reclassifying COVID-19 as a Class V Infectious Disease

January 20, 2023
[Provisional translation]
(Regarding the discussion toward reclassifying COVID-19 as a Class V infectious disease)
Around three years have passed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the cooperation of the public and essential workers such as frontline doctors, nurses and care workers, we have overcome the waves of infections and taken steps to shift to coexisting with COVID-19. And regarding the current infection status, we are determined to do our utmost to overcome the so-called eighth wave by ensuring anti-infection measures and medical systems. In the meantime, since November of last year, we have asked experts to deepen the discussion on how to define and reclassify COVID-19 under the Infectious Disease Control Law by evaluating its virulence and infectivity.
Last week, we received a proposal compiled by experts on a voluntary basis regarding how to define COVID-19 under the Infectious Disease Control Law.
Based on these discussions, we confirmed at the meeting just held that experts will be requested to discuss the matter, with a view to downgrading COVID-19 to a Class V infectious disease from the current category of “pandemic influenza and new infectious diseases” in principle this spring. We thus confirmed that we will announce our intention to ask experts to discuss the matter in this direction.
And in accordance with the reclassification under the Infectious Disease Control Law, we will review the current request that COVID-19 patients and those who have had close contact with such patients refrain on a voluntary basis from outings. We will also consider concrete measures regarding how to deal with the current medical care delivery system and the support that is now offered at the expense of public funds. In order to further promote these efforts and other measures toward coexisting with COVID-19 and restoring peacetime Japan, we will make concrete studies and adjustments regarding the various policies and measures that have been in place so far, with a view to making a phased transition from the current various policies and measures. We will also discuss how to deal with the current requirement of wearing a mask and other anti-infection measures in general.
Regardless of the reclassification, COVID-19 vaccination will be maintained under the Preventive Vaccination Law. We hope that as many people as possible will be vaccinated under the current system. We are also discussing how COVID-19 vaccination should roll out down the road and we will reach a conclusion. Details will be announced by GOTO Shigeyuki, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. We confirmed these matters at the meeting just held.

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