Japan is only utilizing a sixth of its capacity to test for the coronavirus even as it’s rising its ability to do so, authorities data reveals, adding to concern it’s understating its pandemic and not doing enough to curb it.
Nationwide capacity for the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test has advanced to 7,500/day, on track to reach 8,000 per day target by the end of March.
However, the number of tests performed has been, on average, 1,190 per day over the last month, for a complete of 32,125, based on health ministry data.
That compares with over the 200,000 tests performed in South Korea and the 80,000 in Italy.
The ministry says it has made it easier for doctors to order the PCR tests, so the tally for the number of tests performed reflects the discretion of physicians.
Japan has had 868 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29 related deaths, not including cases from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship.
The virus has infected over 180,000 individuals and killed almost 8,000 worldwide, with the most critical spread now taking place in Europe after China, where the virus originated in December.
While Japanese doctors have performed over 32,000 tests, only 16,484 people have actually been tested.