Japan's govt. panel proposes control center to handle infection crises

A Japanese government panel reviewing the state's responses to the coronavirus pandemic has drawn up a draft report that calls for setting up a government control center to tackle infection crises more effectively.

In the draft, the panel of experts listed challenges facing the government's responses to the pandemic.

Regarding the medical system, the panel says the roles of medical institutions in each region were unclear. Hospitals were slow to secure sufficient beds for COVID patients, as they were not legally required to do so. They responded based solely on government requests.

Experts say medical institutions were often overstretched as a result, and that it took time to set up systems that provide medical care to people recuperating at home and handle outpatients with fever.

The draft calls on the government to consider introducing legally-binding measures and review regional healthcare systems.

The draft also points to the need to strengthen the testing system, as experts say the government failed to respond fully to a growing demand for tests. It also asks the government's advisory panel to swiftly share information with transparency and scientific objectivity.

The panel also says that when introducing restrictions on the movements of people based on anti-virus laws, the government must carefully explain why it's taking the measures.

The draft calls on the government to set up a control center that can quickly respond to crises by strengthening its administrative authority over medical institutions.

It also asks the government to coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies, while bolstering its expert teams.

The panel plans to discuss the draft at a meeting on Wednesday before compiling a report.