Japan Considers Downgrading COVID-19 to Less Serious CategoryHealth Society Politics Lifestyle
Japanese legislation divides infectious diseases into five categories based on their risk of serious illness and how infectious they are, defining the actions to be taken by the national government and local authorities.
Category 1: Extremely dangerous
Ebola, bubonic plague
Category 2: Very dangerous
Tuberculosis, avian flu, diphtheria
Category 3: Not as dangerous, but could lead to mass outbreaks of infections
Cholera, typhoid fever, bacterial dysentery, enterohemorrhagic E. coli
Category 4: Transmitted via animals, food, or drink, and very rarely from person to person
Monkeypox, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies
Category 5: Diseases for which outbreaks and spread should be prevented
Seasonal influenza, rubella, chickenpox
COVID-19 is currently classified as “equivalent to category 2,” requiring that hospitals and clinics report the names of infected patients and the details of their diagnosis before making recommendations regarding hospitalization. The soaring numbers of people infected in Japan’s seventh coronavirus wave have increased the administrative burden on the medical front line, leading to regional medical associations and the National Governors’ Association to repeatedly call for a review of the system.
Experts have proposed treating COVID-19 like seasonal influenza, which would require that information be collected only on patients diagnosed at designated medical facilities, or to limit reporting to patients at risk of developing severe symptoms.
Major Required Actions by Disease Category
|Category 2||COVID-19||Category 5|
|Public funding for medical treatment||✓||✓||✕|
|Record all those infected||✓||✓||✕|
|Make recommendations on hospitalization||✓||✓||✕|
|Restrictions on going to work||✓||✓||✕|
|Measures applicable to asymptomatic people||✕||✓||✕|
(Translated from Japanese. Banner image © Pixta.)