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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 September 1 - 7  > Pressed by JCP and public pressure, COVID-19 testing in school expanded to all classmates
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2021 September 1 - 7 [POLITICS]

Pressed by JCP and public pressure, COVID-19 testing in school expanded to all classmates

September 1, 2021

The Education Ministry on August 27 revised guidelines regarding COVID-19 testing in school so that all classmates can receive PCR tests if a coronavirus-positive person is found in school.

The call by the Japanese Communist Party, the New Japan Women's Association, parents, teachers, and school staff for an expansion of testing led to the change in the ministry guidelines. The JCP has demanded providing municipal PCR tests to all schoolchildren if an infection case is found in school.

Previously, only those who had "conversations with someone with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes at a distance of less than one meter without face masks" were defined as ones who had "close contact with someone with COVID-19". Anyone outside this definition was not subject to PCR tests funded by the government. Therefore, if children finish eating school lunches within 15 minutes with their face masks off, they were not considered to have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and could not receive the government-funded tests.

The revised guidelines include all pupils and students who are in the same class or same school club, and all those who live in the same dormitory with someone with COVID-19 as "eligible persons for government PCR tests".

According to the new guidelines, schools under their own discretion can list the names of eligible children without waiting for a public healthcare center's investigation and can have these children receive the test if the healthcare center approves the list.

However, the Health Ministry limits the coverage of the revised guidelines only to prefectures under a state of emergency or under special COVID-19 restrictions. At present, 33 prefectures out of 47 prefectures are subject to the guidelines. It is necessary to lift the limit without delay.
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