Japan considers downgrading Covid-19 to same level as seasonal flu


Japan will contemplate downgrading Covid-19 to the identical class as seasonal influenza this spring, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida introduced Friday.

Kishida mentioned he had instructed Well being Ministry officers to debate the transfer and his administration would additionally evaluate guidelines on face masks and different pandemic measures.

“In an effort to additional advance the efforts of ‘residing with Corona’ and restore Japan to a state of normalcy, we are going to transition the varied insurance policies and measures thus far in phases,” Kishida mentioned.

Whereas day by day Covid-19 instances in Japan have declined in current weeks, the nation nonetheless faces round 100,000 new infections a day.

Covid-19 is categorized as a Class 2 illness, the identical standing as tuberculosis and avian influenza, in line with Japan’s Well being Ministry. Officers will now focus on reclassifying it to Class 5 – the bottom rank, which incorporates seasonal flu.

Japan absolutely reopened its borders to abroad guests final October after greater than two years of pandemic restrictions, ending one of many world’s strictest border controls.

Influenza – or the frequent flu – and Covid-19 are each contagious respiratory sicknesses with simlar signs, however they’re brought on by totally different viruses and require testing to verify a prognosis, the US’ Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) says on its web site.

In response to the CDC, the chance of loss of life or hospitalization from Covid-19 is vastly diminished for most individuals resulting from excessive ranges of vaccination and inhabitants immunity from earlier infections.

Nonetheless, the World Well being Group nonetheless lists the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, and reiterated in its newest replace a advice for individuals to put on masks following current publicity or shut contact with Covid-19, and for “anybody in a crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated area” to do the identical.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus referred to as on governments final week to proceed sharing the sequencing knowledge of the coronavirus, because it remained very important to detect and observe the emergence and unfold of recent variants.

“It’s comprehensible that international locations can’t preserve the identical ranges of testing and sequencing they’d throughout the Omicron peak. On the similar time, the world can’t shut its eyes and hope this virus will go away. It gained’t,” he mentioned.

The information got here as South Korea introduced it is going to raise its masks mandate for many indoor areas, with exceptions for public transport and well being amenities. The modifications will take impact on January 30, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo mentioned Friday.

The measure might be lifted after the Lunar New 12 months vacation, when a lot of individuals are anticipated to journey, the Korea Illness Management and Prevention Company (KDCA) mentioned.

New Covid-19 instances, extreme instances and associated deaths are all declining and the nation’s medical response capability stays steady, KDCA added.

The company has strongly beneficial individuals put on masks if they’ve Covid-19 associated signs, belong to a high-risk group, have been in touch lately with a optimistic case, or are in a crowded area.

The prime minister mentioned the easing of the mandate may end in a brief surge of recent instances and urged well being authorities to remain vigilant.

South Korea has scrapped most of its pandemic restrictions and eased its out of doors masks mandate in Could 2022. It nonetheless requires individuals who take a look at optimistic to endure seven days of house isolation.

The nation has additionally restricted journey from mainland China and applied testing necessities for individuals arriving from China, Hong Kong and Macau following Beijing’s easing of Covid restrictions.