Nishimura Encourages Use Of Covid - 19 Antigen Test

Nishimura encourages use of COVID-19 antigen test

Japan's minister in charge of the coronavirus response says the government plans to encourage the use of coronavirus antigen tests at companies and universities as part of its efforts to prevent cluster infections.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi revealed the idea in an NHK debate program on Sunday.

The Japanese government says it will distribute up to 8 million antigen test kits to help medical and nursing care facilities swiftly detect people infected with the virus.

Nishimura said cluster infections are more diversified than before, and there are cases of people in poor health spreading the virus at their workplaces.

He said the government wants to increase the use of antigen tests to facilitate quick detection of the virus at workplaces and universities to prevent cluster infections.

Nishimura said the minimum requirements for lifting the state of emergency is that the infection situation has to first improve to at least Stage Three -- the second highest on the government's four-level scale -- then move toward Stage Two.

He said some people are urging caution in lifting the emergency by taking into the account the spread of coronavirus variants, but added that the declaration will have to be lifted some time.

The minister said the government will see whether conditions are met so that lifting the emergency won't lead to another wave of infections.