The government will test around 15,000 people for novel coronavirus antibodies by the end of the year, to get a better grasp of the infection situation amid a nationwide resurgence in new cases, health minister Norihisa Tamura said Friday.
The testing, the second of its kind since June, will take place in the prefectures of Tokyo and Osaka along with three others, Tamura told a news conference.
The results will help health officials understand more accurately the extent to which COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has spread in the nation, as antibodies to the virus will be present even in those who are asymptomatic.
In addition to the prefectures of Tokyo, Osaka and Miyagi, which were included in the first round of antibody testing in June, the ministry said testing will also be carried out in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures.
The nation has been seeing record numbers of infections in recent days, with several major cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, calling on nightlife establishments to shorten their operating hours to prevent the virus’s spread.
Around 8,000 people were tested in June for coronavirus antibodies, and the results showed a 0.10% infection rate in Tokyo. The positivity rates for Osaka and Miyagi were 0.17% and 0.03%, respectively.
Health experts said the outcome showed a very limited spread of the virus, as the three regions’ positivity rates were much lower than some 20% detected in New York and 5% in Spain.
After analyzing the test results, they concluded that the first wave of infection in Japan had been “fairly contained.”
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