Japan has approved saliva-based tests for the coronavirus, offering a safer, simpler way to diagnose infection than nasal swabs as it looks to boost its testing rates.
Currently, nasal swabs are the main source for tests in Japan, but these can expose medical workers to coughs and sneezes at the time of collection, making it necessary for them to wear full protective gear.
The saliva-based tests are able to be given to those who have had symptoms for up to nine days, the health ministry said. It wasn’t immediately clear how much the change would boost overall testing capacity.
“This will vastly reduce burdens on patients as well as burdens that come with infection-prevention steps on the part of sample-collecting institutions,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters.