OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 9:36 AM PT – Friday, January 20, 2023
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans to downgrade the legal status of COVID-19 to the equivalent of the Influenza.
Kishida said that he has instructed experts and government officials to look over the details and regulations on lowering COVID’s legal status. The change would include removing self-isolation rules and other requirements. It would also allow COVID patients to seek treatment at any hospital they desire instead of the specialized facilities.
“In order to return to our ordinary daily life in Japan while pursuing measures to adapt to living with the coronavirus,” Kishida said. “We will study concrete measures to gradually move on to a next step.”
COVID is currently categorized as a Class 2 disease, the same category as SARS and tuberculosis, and allows the government to issue emergency measures in relation to the virus.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato explained that the goal is to develop a system in which COVID-19 can be treated as part of routine medical care.
“Changing its classification doesn’t mean coronavirus is gone,” he said. “We still need everyone to take voluntary measures by using masks and precautions.”
Kato stated that it will necessitate some changes for people, workplaces, municipalities, and hospitals, but declined to provide an exact timeline, only stating that it would take place in “the spring.”
Japan currently faces widespread infections and deaths in what is considered to be another wave of outbreak. Experts say that this increase is possibly linked to the worsening chronic illnesses among older patients.