An abrupt resurgence of the novel coronavirus has reignited criticism that Japan isn’t testing enough, and stirred debate over how stronger legal autonomy could empower municipal leaders to localize their countermeasures, prevent cluster infections and thus avoid further economic pain.
While the country is conducting more tests now than it was during the first outbreak — on some days double, on others quadruple the amount — it’s still lagging far behind most nations still ensnared in the pandemic. Some experts say active case surveillance and targeted testing, including those with no symptoms, is good but it’s not enough to detect community transmission. To get ahead of the contagion, they say, the country needs to “massively expand” its testing capacity.
Last week the central government’s coronavirus subcommittee put forward a list of reasons not to test low-risk, asymptomatic individuals, including the associated costs — labor, time and money — and the risk of a false positive.