Photo/Illutration Health minister Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district on Nov. 29 (Hayato Murai)

Japan will consider reclassifying COVID-19 into a less-severe infectious disease category, such as the one for seasonal flu, health minister Katsunobu Kato said on Nov. 29.

Currently, COVID-19 is classified as an “infectious disease, such as novel influenza,” under the Infectious Disease Law, putting it in category 2 or higher.

Diseases at this severe level include tuberculosis. Government authorities can impose strong measures on the public to prevent the spread of such diseases.

The government could lower COVID-19’s status to category 5, according to Kato.

If that happens, government authorities would drop their requests to the public to refrain from going out. Restrictions related to work and business operations will also no longer apply.

“We would like to proceed with discussions comprehensively and immediately, based on the latest evidence, while listening to the opinions of experts,” Kato said at a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.

The Upper House is soon expected to pass a bill to revise the Infectious Disease Law.

When the bill was passed by the Lower House, an additional clause was amended to include wording asking the government to immediately consider reviewing the category for COVID-19.

On a TV program on Nov. 27, Kato indicated that such a review would happen.

“We will make a decision while considering the severity, infectivity and mutation (of the novel coronavirus),” he said.