Japan started conducting antigen tests at airports on Wednesday, using saliva samples to detect coronavirus infections, health minister Katsunobu Kato said.
Such tests were introduced at Tokyo International Airport at Haneda the same day, Kato told reporters after inspecting the airport’s quarantine measures against the coronavirus for people entering the country.
Saliva antigen tests were also introduced at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, Wednesday.
Kansai International Airport in the western Japan prefecture of Osaka plans to adopt such tests in August.
Japan currently conducts around 4,000 tests per day for the coronavirus at airports across the country. However, Japan aims to increase the daily test capacity to around 10,000 from September, the minister said.
According to the health ministry, polymerase chain reaction, or PCR tests for the coronavirus at airports take around six hours to produce results. Antigen tests based on saliva samples, however, take only about an hour to show results.
Such antigen tests also carry lower risks of spreading the virus by stimulating sneezing as they do not require the collection of mucus from the back of the nose.
Airport antigen tests will be carried out for all people entering Japan, except for the elderly and children.
People who are found positive, or suspected of having COVID-19 after the conduction of an antigen test will need to take PCR tests for an accurate diagnosis.