• Kyodo

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Despite pledges to self-isolate upon arrival in Japan, up to around 300 people daily may be breaking quarantine, the health ministry and a contracted medical service firm said Saturday.

Daily checkups have been conducted as part of strengthened border control measures since the end of March to keep imported cases of the coronavirus at bay. All arrivals into the country are subject to the checks for a 14-day period after entry.

But because the ministry has been unable to confirm the whereabouts of some people during the period, it is now considering having private security companies visit quarantine locations if an individual cannot be reached for more than three days.

According to the ministry and the medical service company supporting the quarantine operation, 14-day quarantine periods are active for an average of 24,000 people at any given time.

Of that number, around 200 to 300 people every day could not be confirmed to be in their pledged quarantine locations, with 70% of those people failing to report their whereabouts to authorities and 30% found to be in other locations.

A health ministry official has called on people not to rely too heavily on the results from tests conducted when they enter the country, as it is possible to get a false negative result during the incubation period of the virus.

“We want people to properly see through their quarantine,” the official said.

Japan requires all arrivals into the country to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure and be retested at the time of entry. Even if the results are negative, people are told to self-quarantine for 14 days at home, or at a hotel or other facility.

People are also asked to install the OEL location tracking app upon arrival, with notification messages requesting their location information and health status sent on a daily basis during the quarantine period.

Those who fail to report their whereabouts are contacted individually.

The health ministry has warned that penalties for noncompliance include publicly revealing their names. Foreign nationals can have their status of residence revoked and face deportation.

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