• Jiji, Bloomberg

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida suggested Sunday that the government will stop short of submitting a bill to revise the infectious disease law to allow stronger steps against the coronavirus during the coming ordinary session of parliament.

"We will sort out medium- and long-term challenges by June," Kishida said during a program on Fuji Television Network Inc. The ordinary session of parliament, to be convened on Jan. 17, will run for 150 days through June.

The law revision is aimed at enabling more powerful measures to secure medical workers and hospital beds for COVID-19 patients. Kishida apparently hopes to prevent the bill, which would involve restrictions on rights, from becoming a bone of contention in parliament in the run-up to the triennial election for the House of Councilors.

On concerns that the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus may reduce the availability of hospital beds, Kishida said the government will focus for the time being on ensuring that beds currently available are put to use.

He also said the government will conduct reviews as needed on its control tower functions to address an infectious disease crisis and its collaborations with local governments.

Kishida also said on the same TV program that he would make a decision this week on whether to continue strict border controls introduced in November over the omicron variant, under which the entry of all nonresident foreign nationals has not been permitted.

"I want to make a decision after the current holiday,” he said, referring to a three-day weekend through Monday.

"We have gathered quite a bit of information about the omicron variant, but there are things we don’t fully understand. We need to confirm those things properly and until then, I want to be extremely cautious,” he said.

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