Japan Said Not Well-Prepared for Pandemic

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, May 21 (Jiji Press)--Japan has not been well-prepared to handle an infectious disease pandemic, with the number of public health centers having fallen nearly by half from the level in the 1990s, sources said.

A 31-year-old female company worker in the eastern Japan city of Saitama had a slight fever for one week in mid-April. Her doctor contacted a local public health center to arrange a polymerase chain reaction test for her for the novel coronavirus, but the center refused to conduct it.

The woman, with long-standing asthma, isolated herself in her room at home so as not to transmit her disease to her grandmother living together. Her fever has dropped, but the woman said she does not know whether she had the new coronavirus.

"We're in an abnormal situation in which health centers have to decide who can take (PCR) tests as the test system has not been prepared to deal with (a flood of) consultations," said Katsuhiko Uchida, chief of the Japanese Association of Public Health Center Directors.

The number of consultations to related offices set up at health centers is expected to increase, as the health ministry has deleted one of its criteria for people to visit a doctor over possible infection with the coronavirus--having a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher for four straight days or longer.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press