Japan will consider downgrading Covid-19 to the same category as seasonal flu this spring, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Friday.
Kishida said he told officials of the Ministry of Health to discuss the matter and his officials will review the regulations regarding face masks and other measures against the epidemic.
“In order to advance the efforts to ‘contain Corona’ and return Japan to normal, we will change the various policies and procedures that are currently being implemented in the regions,” Kishida said.
While daily cases of Covid-19 in Japan have fallen in recent weeks, the country is still experiencing about 100,000 new infections per day.
Covid-19 is classified as a Class 2 disease, along with tuberculosis and avian flu, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health. Officials will now discuss the upgrade to Category 5 – the lowest level, which includes seasonal flu.
Japan reopened its borders to foreign visitors last October after more than two years of quarantine, ending one of the strictest restrictions in the world.
Influenza – or the common cold – and Covid-19 are both respiratory infections with similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses and require testing to confirm the diagnosis, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. . his page.
According to the CDC, the risk of dying or being hospitalized from Covid-19 is greatly reduced for most people due to extensive vaccinations and people’s immunity from previous infections.
However, the World Health Organization has still listed the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, and reiterated in its latest statement that people should wear masks after close contact or close contact with Covid-19, and “anyone who is in public, confined, or poorly ventilated areas” to he should do the same.
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asked governments last week to continue to share the results of the coronavirus, because it is still necessary to identify and monitor the spread and spread of new strains.
“It is understandable that countries cannot maintain the same levels of testing and follow-up that they had during Omicron. At the same time, the world cannot close its eyes and hope that the virus will go away. It will not,” he said.
The news came as South Korea announced it would lift its mask in most indoor spaces, except for public transport and hospitals. The changes will take effect on January 30, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said on Friday.
The measure will be lifted after the Lunar New Year holiday, when more people are expected to travel, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
New cases of Covid-19, serious cases and related deaths are all decreasing and the country’s medical response capacity is being strengthened, KDCA added.
The agency has strongly encouraged people to wear masks if they have symptoms related to Covid-19, are in a high-risk group, have experienced a recent infection, or are in a crowded place.
The prime minister said the easing of the mandate could lead to a temporary increase in new cases and urged health officials to be vigilant.
South Korea has lifted most of its pandemic restrictions and reduced its mask mandate in May 2022. It still requires people who test positive to self-isolate for seven days.
The country has also banned travel from China and introduced testing for people from China, Hong Kong and Macau following Beijing’s easing of Covid restrictions.