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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 13 - 19  > Shii expresses concern over partial lifting of state emergency without implementing drastic improvement of PCR testing capacity
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2020 May 13 - 19 [POLITICS]

Shii expresses concern over partial lifting of state emergency without implementing drastic improvement of PCR testing capacity

May 15, 2020
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on May 14 held a press conference and announced his decision to lift the state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic in 39 of the 47 prefectures while keeping eight prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido under the state of emergency.

At the press conference, PM Abe explained that he made this decision based on the criteria agreed upon by experts, one of which is that: the number of new infections per 100,000 population must be 0.5 or fewer in the previous week.

Meanwhile on the day, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at a press conference in the Diet building pointed out that the latest report of the Health Ministry showed that the number of PCR tests per day is still insufficient. He also noted that even the 39 prefectures where the state of emergency will be lifted have poor PCR testing systems. Shii expressed concern over the partial termination of the state of emergency with at present inadequate PCR testing capacity.

According to the Health Ministry’s report on PCR tests, the number of tested per day stood at 3,000-4,000 and the number of tested cases was 7,000-8,000 a day.

Shii pointed out, “The government will end its imposition of emergency measures on the 39 prefectures but it should not ease its vigilance against the COVID-19 spread.” He demanded that the government improve the PCR testing system together with other detection systems to ascertain the full extent of infections.

Shii said that only by boosting case-detection capacities drastically can Japan make swift and proper responses if another wave of virus infections comes. He went on to say that in order to restart economic activities in stages, the fundamental strengthening of testing capacities is vital.

Shii also said that what the government should do as a long-term strategy to combat COVID-19 is to address the pressing challenges the nation’s healthcare system is currently facing. He pointed out that the government should secure a sufficient number of beds for COVID-19 patients with serious or mild symptoms along with quarantine facilities for those infected with no symptoms. He also urged the government to provide sufficient financial support to medical institutions.

Shii stressed that it is unacceptable for the government to dodge its responsibility to provide compensation for loss of earnings by taking advantage of the termination of the state of emergency in the 39 prefectures. He demanded that as financial aid for individuals and business owners, the government should take urgent measures which include rent relief grants for small businesses, the improvement of the program subsidizing businesses maintaining jobs, and financial assistance for students. The JCP Chair pointed out that in this regard, the newly enacted supplementary budget is totally insufficient, and said that the government should formulate a second supplementary budget without delay and implement measures to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system and protect people’s livelihoods.

Past related article:
>Supplementary budget to fund coronavirus economic rescue package enacted by majority support [May 1, 2020]
>Japan conducts only 5,259 tests a day for coronavirus, far short of PM Abe’s daily target of 20K [April 26, 2020]
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