National

Japan to beef up coronavirus panel with local officials and risk experts

Jiji

The government plans to reorganize its panel of experts on the novel coronavirus, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura has announced.

While the current expert panel has no legal backing, a new panel will be placed under the government’s coronavirus advisory council, which is based on a related law, Nishimura told a news conference Wednesday.

The new panel’s members will include representatives from local governments and risk management experts, as well as infectious disease specialists, according to the minister.

“There could be matters that cannot be handled by infectious disease specialists alone,” such as setting vaccination priorities, Nishimura said.

The new panel is slated to hold its first meeting early next month.

The existing panel has drawn up proposals including a target of reducing interpersonal contact by 80 percent and criteria for the lifting of a coronavirus emergency.

However, members of the panel have voiced their concern that the panel may be seen as fully responsible for the country’s response to the coronavirus epidemic, even though it is not a legal body.

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