Japan considers downgrading Covid-19 to identical stage as seasonal flu


Japan will take into account 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 evaluation guidelines on face masks and different pandemic measures.

“In order to further advance the efforts of ‘living with Corona’ and restore Japan to a state of normalcy, we will transition the various policies and measures to date in phases,” Kishida mentioned.

Whereas each 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 keeping with Japan’s Well being Ministry. Officers will now focus on reclassifying it to Class 5 – the bottom rank, which incorporates seasonal flu.

Japan totally 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 widespread flu – and Covid-19 are each contagious respiratory sicknesses with simlar signs, however they’re attributable to completely different viruses and require testing to verify a analysis, the USA’ Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) says on its web site.

In accordance with the CDC, the chance of loss of life or hospitalization from Covid-19 is enormously lowered for most individuals because of 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 “anyone in a crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated space” to do the identical.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus known as on governments final week to proceed sharing the sequencing information of the coronavirus, because it remained important to detect and monitor the emergence and unfold of latest variants.

“It’s understandable that countries cannot maintain the same levels of testing and sequencing they had during the Omicron peak. At the same time, the world cannot close its eyes and hope this virus will go away. It won’t,” he mentioned.

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

The measure will probably be lifted after the Lunar New 12 months vacation, when numerous persons 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 secure, KDCA added.

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

Masks will still be required on public transport and in health facilities after South Korea eases its indoor mask mandate on January 30, 2023.

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

South Korea has scrapped most of its pandemic restrictions and eased its outside masks mandate in Could 2022. It nonetheless requires individuals who check optimistic to bear seven days of residence 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.