FOCUS: Emergency Reveals Japan COVID-19 Test Regime Vulnerability

Society Lifestyle Politics

Tokyo, July 8 (Jiji Press)--Vulnerabilities in Japan's testing regime for the novel coronavirus became apparent during a government-declared state of emergency over the COVID-19 epidemic in April and May.

During the period, many people were forced to wait for much-needed polymerase chain reaction, PCR, tests.

Three months after the emergency declaration on April 7, reviews suggest that the shortage of tests was caused by a lack of crisis management awareness, as the government considered the explosive spread of the virus in other countries to be unrelated to Japan.

While the government met the goal of securing PCR testing capacity of 20,000 tests a day immediately before the lifting of its state of emergency in late May, experts say that a capacity for at least 100,000 tests per day will be necessary to respond to a possible second wave of infections.

"Discussions to urge an expansion of testing capacity did not gain momentum," Shigeru Omi, then deputy chairman of a government-appointed expert panel on the coronavirus, said while reflecting on Japan's epidemic response at a press conference on May 4.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press