Japan to treat COVID-19 as common flu
Japan has stated that COVID-19 will be treated similarly to seasonal common flu.
Japan's Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, announced on Friday that COVID-19 would be reclassified from disease category two to disease category five, putting it on par with tuberculosis and SARS. The virus will be reclassified to category five beginning in the spring of 2023, putting it in the same category as the common flu and cold.
Face masks will no longer be required in indoor public spaces, and infected people and close contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate.
"As we try to restore normal Japanese lifestyles, we would like to shift various measures step by step.
"We will study concrete measures to gradually move on to the next step in order to return to our ordinary daily life in Japan while pursuing measures to adapt to living with the coronavirus," Kishida was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail UK.
Patients are only permitted to wear masks indoors if they are experiencing symptoms.
However, some Japanese experts have questioned the timing of the announcement, given that Covid cases have been on the rise recently, with the current number of cases per 100,000 people reportedly 338, up 40% from the previous week.
In recent weeks, there has also been an increase in deaths linked to an increase in infections among the elderly. Last Saturday, Japan lost 500 people.
"It's still too early to say whether the current wave of infections has peaked," Takaji Wakita, Director-General of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, said on January 17 at a panel session at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in Tokyo.