Japan to Expand Free COVID Testing amid Omicron Fears
Tokyo, Dec. 23 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that the government will offer free COVID-19 tests to everyone in areas where the omicron variant of the coronavirus is feared to be spreading, including the western prefectures of Osaka and Kyoto and the southern prefecture of Okinawa.
Kishida made the announcement during a lecture organized by Jiji Press-affiliated Research Institute of Japan, after the country's first community-acquired cases of the omicron variant were confirmed in Osaka on Wednesday.
More community-acquired omicron cases were reported in Osaka and Kyoto on Thursday, while a large cluster of coronavirus infections has emerged at the U.S. military's Camp Hansen in Okinawa.
"In Osaka, Kyoto and Okinawa, anxiety is growing" among local residents, Kishida said. "In areas facing the need to take measures to contain the omicron variant, we'll conduct free tests on all people who feel uneasy."
For people who cannot be vaccinated against the coronavirus due to health reasons and those under 12 years old, who are currently not covered by the country's vaccination campaign, the government plans to start free COVID-19 tests without bookings in all prefectures within this year.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]