Japan Data

Japan Considers Downgrading COVID-19 to Less Serious Category

Health Society Politics Lifestyle

Japan is considering reclassifying COVID-19 to the same category as seasonal influenza to reduce the administrative burden on medical facilities diagnosing and treating people who have been infected.

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.)

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