Japan Accelerates Coronavirus Testing

Japan Travel Alert updated on March 12, 2020

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid out his government's plans to continue fighting the spreading of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Currently, the number of infections is still rising in Japan. However, the increased speed is slower when compared with other countries where the speed of SARS-CoV-2 infection is accelerating.

As of 17:05 GMT on March 14, 2020, Japan has reported 804 coronavirus cases and 22 fatalities related to the COVID-19 disease.

Prime Minister Abe discussed on March 14, 2020, that he will take all steps necessary to increase the capacity to conduct testing for this coronavirus.

Abe said ‘Within this month, it is expected that up to 8,000 people will be tested in a day.’ 

‘With these tests, so-called cluster-infections will be detected and responded early, and diagnosis will be available early also to prevent serious cases.’

Additionally, Abe said the government has secured more than 12,000 beds for patients at hospitals across the country that can treat infectious diseases. And the number of artificial respirators to treat patients in serious condition will be increased.

Furthermore, a newly enacted law will allow Abe to declare a state of emergency if needed.

Abe said ‘When the administration determines whether to declare a state of emergency, that would put a restraint on various private rights. It will seek recommendations from experts in making the decision carefully.’

Given the situation, it is not necessary to declare a state of emergency now.

An emergency declaration would allow prefectural governors to order schools to close, and people to stay home.

It's been two weeks since Abe asked elementary and high schools across the country to close temporarily.

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Abe said "Schools are planning to have their graduation ceremonies. I would like them to carry out the ceremonies by implementing safety measures."

To better inform international travelers of their health risk, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the Level 2 Travel Alert for Japan on March 12, 2020.

This ‘Practice Enhanced Precautions’ Travel Alert says ‘Japan is experiencing sustained community transmission of respiratory illness now called COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.’

The CDC warns the risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, but ‘older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing non-essential travel to Japan, as this SARS-CoV-2 virus has been confirmed to spread from person to person.’

The CDC says ‘illness with this virus has ranged from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Sore throat and diarrhea have also been reported in some patients.’

If you have spent time in Japan during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, the CDC suggests the following actions:

  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Take your temperature, seek medical advice and avoid contact with others.
  • Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel an area with community spread of coronavirus, and your symptoms.

In addition, the US Department of State issued a Level 2 Travel advisory for Japan on February 22, 2020.

Furthermore, as of March 14, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved any preventive vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

SARS-CoV-2 outbreak news is published by Coronavirus Today.  

Japan Travel Alert News is published by Vax-Before-Travel.