Japan eases restrictions on movement of COVID patients

Japan's health minister has announced the government now allows asymptomatic coronavirus patients to make essential outings if they take antivirus measures.

Health minister Kato Katsunobu met reporters late Wednesday and disclosed a meeting of an expert panel was convened with the aim of balancing infection prevention measures and social and economic activities.

He said restrictions on the movement of coronavirus patients recuperating at home have been eased for asymptompatic patients and those whose symptoms have become mild for 24 hours.

He added these people will still be required to take voluntary measures to prevent infections, including wearing masks, but will no longer have to refrain from essential outings, such as to buy food.
The government on Tuesday decided to shorten the self-isolation period of coronavirus patients with symptoms from the current minimum 10 days to seven. The period for asymptomatic patients will be cut from the current seven days to five.

Kato said the decision has been reported to local governments and the new scheme took effect on Wednesday.

The minister explained many of the members of the expert panel expressed understanding of the decision, but several showed concern.

He said the public needs to understand the virus continues to pose risks.

He said he will heed expert opinion while the government continues its shift to a new stage of coexistence with the coronavirus.