TOKYO, Sept. 2 (Xinhua/APP): The Japanese government on Friday agreed to move forward with plans to introduce new legislation to comprehensively deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
One such measure will be to mandate certain hospitals to make provisions for patients suffering from COVID-19 as it looks toward the creation of a central agency charged with dealing with infectious diseases.
At a coronavirus task force meeting held at Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office in Tokyo, it was decided that hospitals that renege on agreements made with local prefectures to provide beds and treatment for COVID-19 patients will be stripped of their special designations and preferential payments for medical services.
“We will systematically set up a framework so that medical services will be provided for certain in the event of an emergency,” Kishida said at the meeting.
Kishida told his ministers to compile the necessary legislation that will comprise comprehensive measures to deal with the current and future pandemics, with the bills to amend Japan’s infectious diseases law to be submitted during an extraordinary parliamentary session this fall.
The new legislation, it was decided, will also make it possible for the government to call on drug and medical equipment providers in emergencies to produce the requisite items needed, while dentists and clinical laboratory technicians, among others, will be legally allowed to take samples and administer vaccines.
Under the new measures, authorities will also be able to order people suspected of being infected by COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, including those entering Japan, to self-isolate and penalize those who do not report their condition when in isolation.
The task force also decided that a central government agency will be created to respond to infectious diseases during the next fiscal year.
The new measures to combat infectious diseases come as Japan is still in the grip of the seventh wave of COVID-19 infections, and according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest epidemiological update on the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan reported the world’s highest number of weekly infections during the week to Aug. 21 at 1,476,374 cases.
The WHO also said in the same weekly report that Japan recorded 1,624 deaths from the virus, marking the second-highest in the world after the United States.

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