Preventing the spread of infection and developing medical service systems

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COVID-19 tests

Suspected patients are being identified through doctor reports mandated by the Infectious Diseases Control Act. If the doctor considers it necessary, a PCR test is conducted based on the diagnosis and an infected patient is identified.

If a patient is confirmed as positive, an active epidemiological investigation is conducted in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Control Act and close contacts are identified.

The spread of infection is being prevented by asking close contacts to monitor their health in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Control Act and stay at home.

PCR testing, Antigen testing , Antibody testing

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Call Centers for Japanese Returnees and Potential Contacts

  The Call Centers for Japanese Returnees and Potential Contacts and the Outpatient Services for Returnees and Contact Persons are available to individuals suspected of having COVID-19. This allows them to certainly visit an appropriate medical institution that has a developed medical examination and treatment system.
 To coordinate the examination, an individual suspected of having COVID-19 must call the Call Center for Japanese Returnees and Potential Contacts in advance. The center will then evaluate the possibility of COVID-19 infection and pass on to the Outpatient Services for Returnees and Contact Persons.

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Gathering Medical Information System (G-MIS)

Gathering Medical Information System on COVID-19 (G-MIS)

The MHLW and the Cabinet Secretariat's IT Office have collaborated to establish an Information Transmission Base Center (tentative name). The aim of this center is to make the operational status of hospitals widely known and help secure the necessary medical services system by, for instance, utilizing such information to distribute equipment (e.g., masks) and coordinate the transportation of patients. This is done by centrally collecting information on the operational status of hospitals, the availability of hospital wards and medical staff, and the procurement of medical equipment (e.g., mechanical ventilators) and medical personal protective equipment (e.g., masks and protective clothing) from medical institutions nationwide (approx. 8,000 hospitals with ≥ 20 beds).

This page provides information on the current status of outpatients, hospitalization, and emergency functions in hospitals.

※ Click here for details on G-MIS.

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Ascertaining the infection status (HER-SYS)

Health Center Real-time Information-sharing System on COVID-19 (HER-SYS)

The MHLW has developed and implemented the Health Center Real-time Information-sharing System on COVID-19 (HER-SYS) to reduce the operational burden on local public health centers and accelerate information collection and sharing as an emergency plan.

This system allows information to be shared promptly among local public health centers, municipalities (departments other than public health centers), medical institutions, and other relevant parties (e.g., trustees for relevant operations).

Health Center Real-time information-sharing System on COVID-19 (HER-SYS)

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COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application

The MHLW has collaborated with the COVID-19 Response Technology Team in the development of the COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application (COCOA*) to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Use this application after downloading it on your smartphone.

This application enables users to receive notifications about possible contact with positive COVID-19 cases after approval from the individual user by utilizing the short-range communication function (Bluetooth) on smartphones. It ensures privacy by preventing users from identifying each other.

Users can receive quick support from local public health centers, including test visits, if they know that they might have been in contact with positive cases. The more users use this app, the more effectively it will help prevent the spread of infection.

Click here for details on the COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application

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Counter-cluster measures

In Japan, multiple cases have been reported sporadically on a small scale. The spread of infection has been prevented by tracing the route of transmission, especially for close contacts.

We need to minimize the spread of infection within a country by preventing small groups of patients (patient clusters) from creating other groups.

* The term "small-scale patient cluster" refers to a group made up of a few to several dozen patients whose transmission route could be traced.

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Border control

COVID-19 is classified as a type of infectious disease under Article 34 of the Quarantine Act to prevent the COVID-19 pathogen from entering Japan via foreign airplanes and ships and to implement necessary measures to prevent infectious diseases on airplanes. Consequently, measures such as questioning and examining foreign visitors to Japan, isolating and detaining patients, and disinfecting aircrafts can be implemented.

Because this infectious disease is widespread in other countries, border control measures are being implemented in Japan to reduce the risk of causing secondary infection after arrival. These measures include interviewing all passengers on any airplane or ship that arrives from another country or region using questionnaires, by displaying posters that ask passengers to complete self-reports, and distributing health check cards.

In addition, foreigners who have stayed in certain countries or regions in the past 14 days will be refused entry to Japan under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act unless there are special circumstances, regardless of whether they present any symptoms. 

Furthermore, if individuals who have boarded an airplane or ship arriving from another country or region have not been isolated or stopped, they are required to stay at a location designated by the quarantine station chief for 14 days and to avoid using public transportation in Japan.

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Development of medications, vaccines, medical equipment, and test kits

Currently, a proven vaccine for COVID-19 has not yet been developed so symptomatic treatment is mainly used. Note that Remdesivir (Brand name: Veklury for intravenous injection 100 mg, etc.) got the Special Approval for Emergency * on May 7, 2020 (report on the Special Approval (Japanese only), package insert).

Therefore, the MHLW is utilizing various research funds, such as research funds from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) and funds from the MHLW grants system, to develop medications for COVID-19. We are also continuing to expand studies on these agents. In addition to the study of vaccines in Japan, efforts are being made to secure the early development of a vaccine by promoting global cooperation through contributions to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI).

In addition, several investigational agents for other treatments can be found among the existing medications, and observational studies, clinical studies, and trials are being promoted.

The MHLW is prioritizing and fast-tracking the examination of medical supplies, medical equipment (e.g., mechanical ventilators), and test kits for COVID-19. Click here for details.

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Response to the Diamond Princess cruise ship


The infection control measures taken at the Cruise ship “Diamond Princess”(provisional translation)
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