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MHLW changes calculation method for COVID cases

  • May 12, 2020
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 3
  • JMH Translation

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) revised its method of aggregating the total number of new coronavirus cases as of May 9. It will now refer to the websites of each prefecture. Health minister Katsunobu Kato was asked about media reports of this change in the May 11 Lower House budget committee meeting. Kato was confused, saying, “Which report was it.” Kato said that the total number is calculated based on numbers received from the prefectures.


In the budget committee meeting, Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) leader Yuichiro Tamaki pointed out that the number of deaths in Tokyo was 19 people as of May 8, according to the MHLW figure. This figure was later drastically revised to 171 people, after confirmation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website. “How can the government make data-informed decisions in this situation?” said Tamaki critically.


Previously, the MHLW requested data on infection numbers from each prefecture and added the figures to obtain the total number of cases. Reporting had become delayed with the rapid growth of infections, and the figures began to diverge from the actual number of cases. As of May 9, the MHLW changed its method to that of adding up the figures released on each prefecture’s website.

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