Japan will commence random mass testing as early as March as part of efforts to ascertain the extent of the novel coronavirus' spread in city areas, according to government sources.

The central government is aiming to conduct up to several thousand polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per day in Tokyo, Osaka and other metropolitan areas seeing a high number of cases, with the goal of using the information to develop effective virus prevention measures, the sources said Monday.

In contrast with local government testing that only targets people who show symptoms or have had close contact with infected individuals, random people will be tested to determine how much the virus has spread in a particular city.