This is our series on key coronavirus-related information. Click here to read other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.
Antigen test kits available at pharmacies
Government-certified antigen test kits for the coronavirus are now commercially available at pharmacies in Japan. They analyze specimens taken from the nose with a cotton swab and provide results in 15-30 minutes.
The kits have been made available to ensure infected people get access to medical care and prevent the spread of infection. Previously, only medical institutions were allowed to use them.
Pharmacist guidance required
A doctor's prescription is not required to purchase. But customers must receive mandatory guidance from pharmacists about how to use the kits and what to do in the case of a positive result. They must also sign a form to confirm they have received and understood the guidance.
There are 16 approved types and the prices may vary by pharmacy.
Not for people with symptoms
The test kits are not for customers who already have symptoms such as fever. Such people should not visit pharmacies and instead contact a doctor as soon as possible.
People should buy test kits for themselves and their families in advance, while they are healthy.
Continue anti-virus measures
The test kits do not provide a definitive diagnosis. A false negative is possible if a specimen only contains small amounts of the virus. People should continue observing anti-virus measures no matter the result.
This information is accurate as of November 25, 2021.