Japan is considering simplifying the way it deals with the coronavirus, sources close to the matter said Friday, potentially taking a step toward downgrading the virus and treating it like the seasonal flu.
In a trial possibly starting in mid-September, the government plans to select some medical institutions and ask them to report the number of infections regularly, the sources said. This would pave the way for a shift from the current measure of reporting on all individuals confirmed infected.
The government will separately change the detailed coronavirus reporting system. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced this week a plan to allow municipalities to limit the target to elderly people and those at risk of developing severe symptoms while having them continue to report the total number of daily positive cases.
Those revisions come as part of efforts to reduce the burden on hospitals and local health centers as the Omicron strain has driven cases sharply higher and left the medical system stretched thin.
The moves also follow calls from medical and other experts in the government to downgrade the classification of the coronavirus to a level similar to seasonal flu and take a more flexible approach in the battle to stem the spread of the virus while balancing socioeconomic activities.
On Friday, Japan posted around 192,000 daily coronavirus cases, according to local government reports.
Tokyo logged 18,423 new infections, down about 9,200 from a week earlier. The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the capital stood at 21,986.9 per day, down 13.4 percent from the previous week, the metropolitan government said.