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Japan now has the daily capacity to conduct 22,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the novel coronavirus, the health ministry has said.

The number exceeded the target of 20,000 tests announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in response to complaints that many people believed to be infected could not take PCR tests, the ministry said Friday.

According to the ministry, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, quarantine stations, private companies and universities have equipment for PCR tests. The combined PCR testing capacity at these places was 19,420 as of Wednesday and rose above 22,000 on Friday.

Critics say low testing rates make it difficult to assess actual infection numbers and tend to cause a delay in the hospitalization of those infected with the virus.

“It’s important to ensure PCR tests are available to those who are judged by doctors to be in need of tests,” a ministry official said.

Japan would not face a PCR test capacity shortage anytime soon even if coronavirus infections start rising again, the official said.

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