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Study to predict serious COVID-19 cases from urine to go ahead in Japan with city's help

Himeji Mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto is seen announcing the city's cooperation in clinical research to predict serious COVID-19 cases, at the Himeji Municipal Government building in Hyogo Prefecture on Feb. 18, 2021. (Mainichi/Nao Goto)

HIMEJI, Hyogo -- A local government in western Japan is set to assist in clinical research to predict COVID-19 patients' risks of developing severe symptoms by examining urine samples.

    The Himeji Municipal Government in Hyogo Prefecture announced on Feb. 18 that it would take part in a study by the National Center for Global Health and Medicine's Tokyo-based research institute, becoming the first local body in Japan to do so.

    Among those taking part in the study are Dr. Eisei Noiri of the national center. The center aims to collect samples from patients awaiting hospitalization while staying at home or in facilities, and pinpoint those with high risks of developing serious cases of COVID-19 to have them hospitalized at an early stage. Patients' risk of developing severe symptoms will be determined by taking urine samples and measuring the amount of L-FABP, a protein found in urine, and comparing the readings with the normal level.

    The Himeji Municipal Government will receive testing kits for 500 individuals from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine. The city will then examine urine samples collected by nurses at public health centers and other workers visiting the homes of COVID-19 patients to check up on their health. The test results, patients' ages, and other records that cannot be traced to individuals will be inputted into a designated app and provided to the center.

    Himeji Mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto commented, "I hope that this effort will reduce the risk of death. If we can confirm its effectiveness, we'd like to continue it until the coronavirus is contained."

    (Japanese original by Nao Goto, Himeji Bureau)

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