Japan downgrades Covid-19, removing most pandemic restrictions

Tokyo, May 8 (EFE).- Japan on Monday downgraded Covid-19 to the same category as seasonal influenza, removing most of its pandemic health measures that have been in force for more than three years.

Among these preventive measures were border restrictions, lifted by the authorities in recent weeks, as well as guidelines such as quarantine periods for those infected with Covid-19 and their close contacts.

The reclassification of Covid-19 also means that those infected will have to pay more for medical expenses within the framework of the national co-payment health system, and that they will be able to receive treatment at any healthcare facility, rather than designated centers.

In 2020 Covid-19 was categorized as a “special public health threat,” equivalent to or stricter than other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Monday that the government has been working with experts to find a balance between preventing the spread of the disease and maintaining socioeconomic activity.

The government lifted its recommendation for face-mask wearing on Mar. 13, although many residents continue to wear them both outdoors and indoors.

Masks have never been mandatory in the country, which has also never imposed mandatory lockdowns.

At the end of April, Japan also removed the last remaining border prevention measures, which consisted of requiring travelers arriving in the country to present a vaccination certificate showing at least three doses or testing negative before departure.

Japan, with a population of about 125 million, has accumulated 33.7 million infections and 74,654 deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. EFE


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