Japan To Boost Test Capability To 7,000 A Day

Japan to boost test capability to 7,000 a day

The Japanese health minister says he expects the country's capability to test people for the new coronavirus will top 7,000 a day by the end of this month.

Katsunobu Kato made the comment on an NHK talk show on Sunday.

Kato spoke about the virus test, which has been covered by the national health insurance system since last week.

He said the coverage means that doctors can use private labs for testing, without having to get permission from the local public health center.

He said Japan's daily testing capability had increased from 4,200 as of Thursday to 6,200.

He said he expects the capability will be further boosted to over 7,000 tests per day, including those conducted at private labs.

A government advisory panel earlier stressed the importance of "the next one to two weeks" for containing the virus. Those two weeks are about to have passed.

Kato said the success of containment efforts can be gauged by the number of people who test positive. He said it takes 10 to 14 days to get back results.

The health minister said the panel will reconvene to evaluate the effects of the measures.

Kato said the government will decide whether to allow large-scale gatherings to resume, based on the panel's review.

The government had requested that people think twice about such events.