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Tokyo to set up disease prevention center modeled on US CDC in October

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters is seen in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, in this image taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will in October establish a new command center modeled after the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curb infectious diseases, it announced on July 31.

    A board of experts at the new center will provide recommendations forming the basis for local government policy, investigations and data collection to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

    The Tokyo government intends to restructure the functions of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health, the public health institute in the capital's Shinjuku Ward responsible for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and preventing the spread of infections. To make use of the kind of up-to-date knowledge that administrative organs may not have, the center will make advances in disease-related investigations and research with the cooperation of universities, research institutes, private companies and others.

    The board of experts will provide advice to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, department administrators and other public employees, while also joining in partnerships to advance research on measures against infectious diseases. The center will additionally have the capacity to respond to general infectious ailments other than the new coronavirus, such as the seasonal flu.

    In emergency situations where infections are spreading, the center will play a central role in Tokyo's crisis management. Operations will be coordinated on a general level, and adjustments made to the number of patients who can enter hospitals, among other measures. After a team comprising researchers based both within and outside the metropolitan government has investigated disease trends, policies to stem the spread of infections will be drafted, and information will also be relayed to residents.

    In ordinary times when the spread of infectious diseases is calmer, the new organization will engage in work including creating networks with universities, engaging in public awareness programs on preventing communicable conditions, and drawing up guidelines.

    Preparations for the new center's establishment will start in August with the announcement of which public employees will be moved to the project. Work to bring together the panel of experts is already proceeding. After the center is established, it will begin recruiting people from outside the metropolitan government as part of its efforts to improve its investigatory and analytical abilities, and aim to begin full-fledged operations.

    At a regular press conference on July 31, Gov. Koike said, "To prevent the spread of infections and to stop our health service infrastructure from collapsing, we must create a system even stronger than the one we have now."

    The U.S. CDC is a body affiliated to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and is tasked with preventing infectious and chronic diseases, among other responsibilities. At a press conference earlier in July, Koike pledged to set up a Japanese version of the CDC.

    (Japanese original by Koichi Uchida and Toshiki Koseki, City News Department)

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