Panel okays coronavirus 'vaccine & test package'

Experts advising the Japanese government have approved the use of coronavirus vaccine records and proof of negative test results to relax social restrictions.

The panel of experts on Tuesday discussed the government's plan to introduce the so-called "vaccine and PCR testing package" program, to keep social and economic activities going even when infections resurge.

Under the government's draft outline, dining establishments and event planners aiming to relax rules, are to pre-register with prefectural governments to use the program.

They will ask customers or visitors to present either proof of vaccination or a negative test result.

A vaccine certificate would need to show that the second dose was given at least 14 days earlier, but the certificate itself would be regarded as valid indefinitely, for the time being.

While greenlighting the plan, the experts cautioned that fully vaccinated people could still pose an infection risk, as well as those who test negative. They also called for studies on limiting the validity of vaccine certificates.

The experts added that the government should consider suspending the use of the proof-based program, when the infection situation reaches level three on the new five-point scale. Level three, on a scale of zero to four, means hospitals are unable to cope with coronavirus patients unless they curtail regular medical treatment for diseases other than COVID-19.