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MHLW considering allowing COVID patients to be discharged from hospitals without PCR test

  • May 29, 2020
  • , Mainichi , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

By Hiroyuki Harada


The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has started discussing revising the criteria for discharging coronavirus patients. If implemented, the new criteria would in principle not require a confirmed negative result in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Currently a confirmed negative PCR test result is required for coronavirus patients to be discharged. The matter has been referred to an expert meeting scheduled for May 29, after which an announcement will be made.


Before coronavirus patients can be discharged from the hospitals, they currently are required to undergo two PCR tests (with a 24-hour interval between the tests) 24 hours after their symptoms have improved, including a return to a normal temperature. If patients test negative in the two PCR tests, they are discharged. In cases where medical facilities are strained, patients with mild symptoms undergo medical treatment at either hotels or their home. In those cases, treatment is terminated without a PCR test after 14 days.


Under the revised plan, patients would be allowed to be discharged from the hospital or medical treatment would be terminated without a PCR test provided that 14 days have passed since the onset of disease and 72 hours have passed since the improvement of symptoms. This is being considered because case reports so far show that the risk of virus infection is low after 10 days have passed from the onset of disease even if the virus is still detected. Under the new plan, patients whose symptoms improve before 10 days have passed since onset would be required to undergo the PCR test twice before being discharged from the hospital.

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