University exams to be organized for omicron-exposed students

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday instructed the education ministry to come up with ways on how students who have been in close contact with those infected by the omicron COVID-19 variant can safely take school entrance examinations without putting others at risk, sources close to Kishida said.

Options may include allowing such people to take tests in separate rooms, according to the sources. Kishida’s instructions came at a time when community-acquired omicron infection cases are starting to spread around the country.

With less than a month to go until the Jan. 15-16 unified university entrance exams organized by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, the ministry will rush to study specific measures with experts and announce a decision by the end of the year, the sources said.

The first case in Japan of the highly transmissible variant was confirmed in late November, and community-acquired omicron cases have since been found in prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka.

On Tuesday last week, Kishida announced a policy of urging people who have been in close contact with those infected with omicron to quarantine at accommodation facilities for 14 days and not at their homes.

Based on this policy, the education ministry on Friday issued guidelines stipulating that such test-takers should attend makeup exams and not be allowed to take regular exams even if they are asymptomatic.

The ministry stance prompted many people online to express sympathy for such test-takers.

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