Japan's new unified university entrance examination is set to take place for two days from Saturday, in an unprecedented situation amid the rapidly growing spread of the novel coronavirus, which has led to parts of the Tokyo metropolitan area being put under a fresh state of emergency.
While the test has some 530,000 applicants, including high school third-graders, the education ministry and the National Center for University Entrance Examinations are advising them to apply for a substitute exam if they have health issues.
The new test, which replaces the National Center Test for University Admissions for the first time this year, will also be held on Jan. 30-31 as a special measure in response to a delay in study due to temporary closures of high schools last year amid the pandemic. The later test, for which 718 people have applied, will also serve as a substitute exam for those who will miss the exam on Saturday and Sunday.
The ministry and the center are asking applicants to check their body temperatures every morning for about seven days in the lead-up to the test and bring their temperature data to their exam venues.
If applicants have any of three symptoms — a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher, breathing difficulty or strong fatigue — or two or more conditions such as smell or taste disorder, a lasting cough or pain in the throat, or diarrhea on the day of the exam, they will be advised to skip the test and apply for the substitute exam.
Such applications will be accepted between Tuesday and the day of the exam. Those submitting the substitute test applications need to inform the universities hosting the test venues by telephone. There will be no need to submit medical certificates.
For applicants who develop symptoms after arriving at the test venues, doctors will decide whether they should be allowed to take the exam in separate rooms or whether they should choose to apply for the substitute test.
If applicants are identified by public health centers as having had close contact with infected individuals, they will still be allowed to take the exam in separate rooms under three conditions — showing negative results in coronavirus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests offered by local governments, having no symptoms on the day of the exam and going to exam venues without using public transportation services.
Exam-takers will be obliged to wear face masks at the test venues and eat lunch at their seats.
The use of thermography for checking the body temperatures of test-takers at exam venues has been banned, to prevent them from feeling nervous.
A total of 64 venues have been secured across the country for the Jan. 30-31 exam. A substitute exam has been set for Feb. 13-14 for those who have applied for the Jan. 30-31 test as their first choice, instead of the test from Saturday.
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