On Aug. 5, the Japan Medical Association released a proposal to increase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19. Currently, medical facilities must sign a contract with their prefectural government in advance to conduct the testing so the national government can subsidize the medical expenses borne by patients for the test. The association apparently thinks the cumbersome procedures involved in the contract are one of the reasons that the number of PCR tests has not increased sufficiently in Japan. The organization is therefore requesting a framework where local governments can receive subsidies without concluding a contract.
Japan’s capacity for PCR testing is about 35,000 cases a day, which is fewer than in foreign countries. “If a doctor deems it necessary, a PCR test should be conducted regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms,” said President Toshio Nakagawa of the association.
The proposal also includes the development of a system for safe transport of samples to laboratories and a significant increase in equipment. It also includes the appropriate assignment of professionals to conduct PCR tests and the development of facilities where patients can wait until the test results are available.