Experts warn Japan may not have enough new virus test kits
Japan Today -- Mar 23
Despite Japan's efforts to carry out more testing for the new coronavirus, medical experts have cast doubt on whether the country can provide adequate testing for citizens and promote effective policies to contain the outbreak.

Other pundits have warned that many private companies and government bodies in Japan have remained reluctant to take aggressive measures to combat the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus until an employee is found to be infected.

An expert on data analysis and modelling for social-economic systems has called on such organizations to implement urgent steps against the coronavirus, given that the test results are likely to take up to two weeks and the number of infected patients may increase during the period.

Firms are also expected to incur heavy losses if they only start to act once a worker is infected, as they would be forced to swiftly take drastic measures, including shutting down their operations for an extended period, which could restrict social-economic activities.

"It is hard to comprehensively explain testing capacity in Japan as a whole as it varies across the country. But not enough is being done around me at least," said Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University.

Even when there are test kits or the necessary equipment, the number of tests does not increase immediately because it takes time for medical institutions to ensure the accuracy of the tests.

Procedures such as seeking approval for insurance cover also have to be dealt with, said Iwata, who joined the medical response team that boarded the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo in February.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on March 14 that Japan has a capacity to test more than 6,000 people per day. Meanwhile, health ministry data showed the number of tests conducted between Feb. 18 and March 19, stood at 37,726.

News source: Japan Today
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