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The health ministry has decided to allow symptom-free or mildly ill people infected with new variants of the coronavirus to isolate themselves at designated accommodation facilities, instead of hospitals.

The ministry has been notifiying local governments of the decision.

Previously, all coronavirus variant carriers were subject to hospitalization in principle.

In response to a recent rise in cases of infection with coronavirus variants, which are said to be highly contagious, the ministry decided to narrow the scope of hospitalization to prevent the supply-demand balance of hospital beds from becoming tight.

The ministry now allows local governments to have variant patients stay at accommodation facilities if they are judged by doctors as not having symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization, depending on infection situations in respective areas. Meanwhile, local governments are asked to check such patients’ health conditions thoroughly.

Before leaving accommodation facilities, patients will be required to get negative results from two polymerase chain reactions tests conducted at an interval of 24 hours after their symptoms improved.

The ministry will also consider setting criteria for allowing patients to leave accommodation facilities without getting tested.

In Japan, many cases involving coronavirus variants originally from Britain, South Africa and Brazil have been reported. British variant cases account for the majority of the total variant cases in the country.

According to the ministry, the cumulative number of coronavirus variant infection cases across Japan stood at 801 as of last Tuesday, with such cases increasing significantly in the prefectures of Hyogo and Osaka.

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