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Japan to begin random Covid-19 tests to understand the virus spread in cities

From March, free PCR tests could be conducted even on individuals showing no coronavirus symptoms

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

In order to gauge the spread of Covid-19 in Japan, the government has decided to carry out random PCR tests from as early as March, The Japan Times reports. Currently, on a local level, tests are only conducted on people displaying signs of coronavirus as well as those who have been in contact with confirmed infected individuals. These random tests, however, will involve individuals with seemingly no symptoms. 

Government sources revealed that up to several thousand people could be tested each day as a way of understanding how widespread the virus is in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Test results will be shared privately with the respective individuals; the statistical data collected will not reveal the identities of those who took the tests.

In addition, the government plans to gather insights from social media, such as Twitter, on people’s attitude towards the virus to track changes in behavioural patterns. The information collected will be analysed to anticipate a potential spike before the number of positive cases becomes critical. 

Random tests will be conducted in busy public areas where the virus is likely to spread faster, including airports as well as companies, crowded city centres and universities. Samples from testing kits will be collected locally on site as well as via mail. While the tests will be administered by private companies, the government will be footing the bill for this undertaking. 

Keep up with the latest Covid-19 news in Tokyo and Japan here

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