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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched on Thursday its own version of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aiming to step up its response to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

The Tokyo Center for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention (iCDC), is set to consider preparations for a possible double epidemic of COVID-19 and influenza in the coming winter.

The new body is headed by the director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's health and welfare department. Its staff includes about 80 officials from the infectious disease control department.

The establishment of such an organization was a pledge made by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike during her re-election campaign.

Based on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the new body will act as a "control tower" in responding to future problems and medical system-related issues, Koike told reporters on the day.

In normal times, the Tokyo center will exchange information on infectious disease situations at home and abroad with the central and local governments, the medical community and research institutes.

If signs of an epidemic are seen in the capital, the center will research and analyze the situation, consider response measures and coordinate with related organizations.

Within the center, a board of experts will be set up to make policy recommendations. The board will be chaired by Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University Prof. Mitsuo Kaku, who will also become an adviser to the metropolitan government.

"We aim to draw up recommendations that will help improve the metropolitan government's measures against infectious diseases," Kaku said.

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