Photo/Illutration The building in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district housing the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The health ministry is relaxing its conditions for hospital release for those infected with COVID-19.

Until now, patients being treated for pneumonia-like symptoms of the novel coronavirus were required to remain in hospital for 14 days after signs of illness first surfaced.

That will now be shortened to 10 days on condition symptoms, such as fever, have improved for at least a 72-hour period. Patients will be allowed to leave hospital without taking a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm whether or not they are infected.

The health ministry announced the measure June 12. The revision was in line with new guidelines announced by the World Health Organization.

Those who show no obvious symptoms of COVID-19 but tested positive in the PCR test will also be able to leave hospital 10 days from the date when the test sample was taken. 

In addition, a new rule has also been established for those who are asymptomatic. Six days after the PCR test sample was taken, patients will be allowed to leave the hospital if they produce two consecutive negative PCR tests taken with at least a 24-hour interval.

The shortened release periods will also apply to those with minor or no symptoms who are allowed to rest and recuperate at home or at alternative lodging, such as a hotel, rather than a hospital.