Japan to encourage online medical care as COVID and flu spread in winter

Japan’s Health Ministry said on Thursday that people at low risk of developing severe coronavirus symptoms will be encouraged to use home testing kits and online medical services this winter when COVID-19 and seasonal flu should spread simultaneously.

The measures, which assume a peak of 750,000 cases per day, are aimed at easing the burden on hospitals and prioritizing medical care for the elderly amid warnings of a new wave of the virus in the busiest months. coming cold.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (second from L) speaks during a government meeting on October 13, 2022, to address the expected winter surge of COVID and seasonal flu. (Kyodo)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed during a government review meeting involving Health Ministry officials the need for “preventive preparations”, calling on the Japanese Medical Association and other organizations to cooperate in the deployment of vaccines and to improve the health system.

The government projects that COVID-19 and influenza infections will peak at 450,000 cases and 300,000 cases per day, respectively.

While the elderly and others at high risk of developing severe symptoms will be encouraged to visit medical facilities, other people in low-risk groups who test negative for COVID-19 will home will be encouraged to use online medical services or see their family doctor.

Self-administered flu medications will also be prescribed as needed.

If they test positive for COVID-19, they will need to contact their local health center and self-isolate at home.

The government has started considering measures to prevent outpatient fever clinics from being overwhelmed after a panel from the Department of Health released a report on October 5 saying there is an ‘extremely high possibility’ that COVID-19 and seasonal flu will spread in the next six months. March.