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Japan’s PCR testing system fails to keep up with spread of coronavirus

  • April 24, 2020
  • , Nikkei
  • JMH Summary

Nikkei front-paged a report claiming that Japan’s system of PCR testing for the new coronavirus has been unable to keep up with the spread of the disease as the speed of obtaining test results has been slowing. The paper wrote that according to analysis conducted by consulting firm J.A.G Japan, while it took an average of 5.5 days for people to receive positive test results for the new coronavirus after they developed symptoms of fever or cough in early April, it took an average of 7.3 days as of April 18. Saying that such delays could increase the risk of the disease becoming severe and the virus spreading, the paper argued that it is necessary for Japan to expand the use of private labs and simplified testing kits to prevent the virus from spreading further while maintaining the nation’s medical system. The paper wrote that Japan has conducted a total of about 8,000 PCR tests per day nationwide since mid-April. Although private labs reportedly have a total testing capacity of about 4,000 per day, they only handled about 2,000 of the tests and the rest were covered by the Tokyo-based National Institute of Infectious Diseases or local public-sector institutions. The paper wrote that although Prime Minister Abe said on April 6 that Japan would double its daily PCR testing capacity to 20,000 tests, some in the government are becoming increasingly alarmed by the lack of progress. Former Health Minister Shiozaki said that the government has been too focused on stamping out clusters and has fallen behind on ramping up testing.

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