Japan Downgrades COVID-19 Category: Infections Recorded for Quarter of PopulationHealth Society Politics
On May 8, 2023, the Japanese government downgraded COVID-19 from category 2 to category 5 under the country’s legislation, placing it at the same level as seasonal influenza. In the three years and four months since the first infections were identified in Japan, the government has declared four states of emergency in Tokyo and other large cities in which residents were encouraged to stay home and bars and restaurants were called on to shorten operating hours, measures that greatly affected economic and social activities. Although COVID-19 infections continue, society has largely returned to normal.
COVID-19 in Japan
|Total vaccinations (doses)
Created by Nippon.com based on data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.
With the downgrading to category 5, the government will no longer cover the costs for tests and treatments for the illness. Authorities have also lifted restrictions on the activities of infected people and close contacts along with recommendations for masks, leaving it to individuals to decide whether to wear face coverings. However, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare still recommends that people who are infected remain at home for 5 days from the onset of symptoms, and wear masks for 10 days.
The publication of daily totals for new infections across the country also came to an end with the change in category. Instead, the MHLW will publish weekly “fixed-point” observation data based on reports from around 5,000 designated medical institutions nationwide.
Changes with Downgrade to Category 5
|Only pay for initial examination
|Pay all medical costs
|Free in fiscal 2023
|7 days for those infected
|No requirement, but 5 days excluding day of onset of symptoms recommended for those infected
|5 days for close contacts
|Left to decision of individuals and businesses
|Data collection method
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)