Business / Corporate

Rakuten PCR test risks spreading coronavirus, says Japan health expert

Jiji, Kyodo

An official on the health ministry’s expert panel for COVID-19 has expressed concerns over a test kit for the new coronavirus released by cybermall operator Rakuten Inc.

“The collection of specimens involves infection risks and may cause the spread of the virus to others,” Satoshi Kamayachi, who is also an executive board member of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), told a news conference Wednesday.

Rakuten said Monday that it had started selling the kit that uses the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing method to corporate customers.

The kit, which detects genes characteristic of the coronavirus, only indicates the possibility of infection. It does not directly indicate whether a user is infected.

PCR tests sometimes show negative results for virus carriers, Kamayachi said.

“The product may cause big confusion for medical services and pose risks to users, their families and others around them,” he warned.

The sale of the product is very problematic, he said, adding that he would discuss the issue with the health ministry to prevent any similar developments from occurring.

Yoshitake Yokokura, head of the JMA, also said Wednesday that it would be dangerous to depend too much on the test kit without consulting doctors and called for expanded testing by doctors.

Your news needs your support

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.

Coronavirus banner