Tokyo – Japan’s health ministry Wednesday notified the local governments that people infected with the omicron coronavirus variant can isolate at home instead of being hospitalized, if local medical systems become strained.

The ministry also said that isolation at home or designated accommodation facilities will be granted on condition that resources necessary for at-home treatment, such as oral COVID-19 drugs, are available, health minister Shigeyuki Goto told reporters.

The previous policy required all people with the omicron variant to be hospitalized.

The ministry also eased the policy of asking all omicron close contacts to stay at designated lodging facilities in principle, now allowing them to isolate at home.

Local governments will be allowed to apply the relaxed rules if the occupancy rate of local hospital beds or accommodation facilities for COVID-19 patients is expected to exceed 50 percent in three weeks.

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