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Japan to introduce online system to collect, share coronavirus information

The Central Government Building No. 5 in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward that houses the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is seen in this Feb. 2, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan is set to introduce an online system to manage information on novel coronavirus patients in an integrated fashion, in a bid to reduce the burden on public health centers and to enhance patient support.

Medical institutions or patients themselves can input information into the "HER-SYS" system, such as their health condition, which will be shared among public health centers, prefectural governments, the national government and other authorities. A test run will first be conducted at 21 local government bodies, and the rest of Japan will implement the system during May at the earliest.

Public health centers and others will inform individuals who receive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests of the system's URL, their ID and passwords. The user will type in their name, home address, history of travel, symptoms, result of the test and other information.

People who tested positive for the new coronavirus and are staying at home will be asked to access the system every day and input their health condition. Medical institutions will input information on those who are hospitalized, such as their symptoms and the circumstances surrounding their admission and discharge.

Furthermore, individuals who came in close contact with coronavirus patients will also receive IDs and passwords, and will be required to type in their health condition.

By doing so, coronavirus patients' information as well as the number of new infections and those released from hospitals can be swiftly collected and widely shared, according to the health ministry. So far, doctors have been filling out information on coronavirus cases and sending the information via fax to public health centers. Workers at these facilities have been inputting the information using computers. Some have pointed out that this method is inefficient.

The health ministry is also set to introduce "G-MIS," a system to support coronavirus-related information-sharing among medical institutions. Information on operational status, as well as circumstances surrounding hospital beds and medical staff, stocks of ventilators, masks, protective gear and other items of some 8,000 medical facilities nationwide can be collected and uniformly managed. The system will be used to supply medical equipment and manage the transferring of patients to hospitals.

(Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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