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COVID-19 has been around for the best part of a year, and medical technology has been racing to keep pace with the rise in infections and viral mutations. Until recently, unless you were presenting with COVID-19 symptoms, or were deemed to be a close contact of another confirmed case, you didn’t qualify for the free or low-cost testing offered in Japan. For the asymptomatic or only potentially exposed, the only other option was to pay for a test out of pocket, which generally cost a daunting ¥25,000 to ¥40,000.

Moreover, there has been a longstanding element of built-in embarrassment, or even shame, about needing a test in some quarters, and information about who qualifies for one remains somewhat unclear. However, as the coronavirus has become entrenched in daily life, people are becoming more open about testing, and the private sector is stepping in to expand testing options. In the past few weeks, several low-cost facilities have entered the scene, offering no-frills testing for a fraction of the price at a regular clinic. Here’s what you can expect.

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