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World Japan embarks on random and targeted COVID-19 testing, but some experts call for more

02:22  03 march  2021
02:22  03 march  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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Some have had successes, combining mass-testing, technology and social distancing to stem the tide of infections. But uncertainty over the virus’s future course means the region is not out of the woods yet. South Korea: drive-through testing, mobile alerts, mass screening. South Korea has the highest While the outbreak placed huge strain on the city’s medical services, new infections appeared to slow after health authorities completed Covid - 19 tests on 210,000 Shincheonji followers. Identifying so many cases among a single group, and in a relatively confined geographical area, appears to have

Hong Kong has begun a free universal Covid - 19 testing programme, despite criticism that it is not effective and could be misused for surveillance. The voluntary mass testing is being conducted with the help of medical staff from mainland China. A health workers union has criticised the effort as an inefficient waste of resources while activists have said it could be used to collect DNA samples. Health experts are also raising concerns that faulty tests might return false negatives and that as many as five million people would need to get tested to end the current third wave of infections.

By Rocky Swift and Kiyoshi Takenaka

a man standing next to a building: FILE PHOTO: A security guard wearing a protective face mask is seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo © Reuters/ISSEI KATO FILE PHOTO: A security guard wearing a protective face mask is seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Last week, about 600 people were tested for the coronavirus in the city of Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo - the Japanese government's first stab at systematic random and targeted testing that it hopes will prevent a new wave of infections.

Some 300 people walking in the city and another 300 at local schools were given saliva-based PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests.

Compared to mass-testing drives in South Korea, China and other nations, it was a small effort but for Japan, the testing exercise - set to be replicated in many parts of the country - represents a significant step up.

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RT.com supports Covid - 19 testing and other widely-adopted public health measures developed to fight the pandemic. Top US virologists have been stunned by revelations about the laxity of the US Covid testing regimen. It turns out that tests that deliver a simple binary “positive or negative” result are It would be difficult to argue that the US Covid testing is fit for purpose in its current state. The experts seem to base every decision now on case numbers or derivatives thereof, despite the apparent lack of association between fluctuating case numbers and hospital admissions and deaths; the latter two of

Concerned by highly transmissible variants of the virus and asymptomatic spread, Japan revised its pandemic strategy in early February, and the new testing comes as many regions emerge from a two-month state of emergency and Tokyo prepares to host the Olympics from July.

However, many health experts argue the updated strategy still falls far short of what is needed, especially given that inoculations have only just started and vaccine supplies are limited.

The health ministry's policy of eschewing mass-testing to conserve manpower and hospital resources is "upside down and totally wrong," says Yusuke Nakamura, a renowned geneticist and cancer researcher.

He believes Japan has squandered opportunities to drive down infections to zero with extensive PCR testing and should be investing heavily in automated PCR testing systems.

Japan steps up COVID testing, but some say more effort needed

  Japan steps up COVID testing, but some say more effort needed During pandemic’s course, Japan performed about 60 tests per 1,000 people, compared with 130 in S Korea and 1,000 in US.Some 300 people walking in the city and another 300 at local schools were given saliva-based PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests.

Testing for coronavirus ( COVID - 19 ). The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Parents or guardians have to swab test children aged 11 or under.

A nurse performs a PCR test at the Hospital de la Tour during the COVID - 19 outbreak in Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland, © Reuters. Last week I reported on an astonishing review conducted by a group of senior scientists on a paper on which most Covid testing is based. It comprehensively debunked the science behind the Corman-Drosten paper, which described a protocol for using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to detect Covid, finding 10 fatal flaws, including major failings in the operating procedure and potential conflicts of interest among its authors.

The government conducts around 40,000 PCR tests a day, about a quarter of its capacity, restricting tests to people who are symptomatic or who have had a high chance of being infected.

Over the course of the pandemic, it has performed about 60 COVID-19 tests per 1,000 people, compared with 130 in South Korea or 1,000 in the United States, according to the Our World in Data website run by an Oxford University research programme.

Instead, Japan has concentrated on busting up clusters by tracing their sources, with the health ministry defending its COVID-19 testing regime as in line with standards set by the World Health Organization.

To be fair, that policy combined with instructions to the public to avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places as well as widespread mask-wearing, had been relatively successful in containing the virus until a surge in infections early this year.

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For more information regarding inbound travel testing requirements, we refer A: Some resorts and int’l airports are working to provide testing but there’s no guarantee there will be enough You can contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, or call these numbers at the U.S. Department What if I have had a COVID - 19 vaccine or have tested positive for antibodies? Do I still need a negative

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This year's state of emergency, Japan's second and which focused on getting restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m., has brought cases down sharply. Tokyo is currently averaging less than 300 cases daily over the past seven days, compared with several days of more than 2,000 cases in early January.

Health Ministry officials have also argued that testing is sufficient if the coronavirus positivity rate is around 5% or less. Japan's 7-day average positivity rate as of end-February was 2.8% while Tokyo's was 3.5%.

The calls for more testing, however, have also found backers among some lawmakers.

"Now that cases are going down, this is our chance to expand testing," said Yuichiro Tamaki, who leads the Democratic Party for the People, a small opposition party. He wants the government to provide free, antigen-based self-testing kits to every citizen.

Tamaki says he has the support of other lawmakers including some from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as widespread testing could allow the government to restart tourism promotion campaigns.

Underscoring misgivings about the central government efforts, some local governments are taking matters into their own hands. The cities of Ichikawa and Inzai, east of Tokyo, are offering free PCR tests to people over 65, while Hiroshima has set up five temporary PCR test centres for free.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Edwina Gibbs)

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