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Tokyo opens free COVID testing sites for Obon holiday period travelers

A man is seen taking a coronavirus antigen test for free at a temporary testing site installed at JR Shinagawa Station, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government opened six free coronavirus testing sites at major transportation hubs in the capital on Aug. 5 for targeted groups during Japan's Obon summer holiday period, when many people travel back to their family homes or go on trips.

    The temporary testing sites at JR Tokyo, Shinagawa, Ueno, Ikebukuro and Shinjuku stations, as well as at Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal are open through Aug. 18. Eligible people can receive free antigen tests at the sites between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A reservation normally needs to be made ahead of the person's visit, but people can book a place on the spot if there are vacancies.

    The testing sites are mainly intended to be used by people before they visit their family homes or go on trips, and by those who are asymptomatic when returning. People who plan to participate in dining functions and other events can also get tested and the service is also offered to those living outside of Tokyo. Of those who have received their third booster shots, some conditions are applied for the free tests, including when they are planning to see older people who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms or those with underlying medical conditions.

    Many people were seen visiting the testing site at JR Shinagawa Station in Tokyo's Minato Ward after it opened in the morning on Aug. 5. Among those taking a test was a 44-year-old office worker from Minato Ward, who was planning to travel back to her family home in Kanagawa Prefecture with her 8-year-old son.

    "I was worried about my parents who are both old, so I wanted to go (visit them) after taking a test, just in case. It's been a year and a half since I've been back at my family home, and my parents are also really looking forward to it," she said.

    Reservations for testing can be made online at: https://covid-kensa.com/2022summer_temporary.html (in Japanese)

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)

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