A group of Japanese health experts on Tuesday urged the government to speed up its review of measures against COVID-19, including changing ways to collect infection numbers and allowing general medical institutions to treat patients.
Japan's top coronavirus adviser Shigeru Omi, who heads a government panel on the coronavirus, and some other members proposed that the government proceed in two stages to allow social and economic activities to continue while lessening the burden on hospitals.
While the government has said it would update measures after the ongoing spread of infections dies down, Omi said at a press conference, "It is not appropriate under the current circumstances to wait until the resurgence has subsided."
According to the proposal, new measures should be taken immediately in five areas, such as medical and municipal responses, depending on local COVID-19 situations under stage 1, while a comprehensive review, with an eye on amending the law to facilitate drastic and flexible measures, will be conducted under stage 2.
Medical facilities and public health centers currently cooperate in reporting the total COVID-19 cases to the government, but with infections surging amid the country's seventh wave of the pandemic, there are fears they will no longer be able to keep up.
The government has so far designated hospitals to accept COVID-19 patients in a bid to prevent within-hospital transmission, but it plans to also allow general medical institutions to do so.
While costs will be funded by the government for the time being, medical institutions when reaching stage 2 will only be able to use public funds to treat severely ill patients or purchase high-cost drugs.
The reporting of infections will also be reviewed, with trends to be monitored using data from some regions and facilities while collecting information on high-risk patients.