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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced plans to downgrade the legal status of COVID-19 to the equivalent of seasonal influenza in the spring, a move that would further relax mask wearing and other preventive measures as the country seeks to return to normalcy. Kishida said Friday he has instructed experts and government officials to discuss the details on lowering COVID-19's status. A change would also remove self-isolation rules and other anti-virus requirements and allow COVID-19 patients to seek treatment at any hospital instead of only specialized facilities.

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced plans to downgrade the legal status of COVID-19 to the equivalent of seasonal influenza in the spring, a move that would further relax mask wearing and other preventive measures as the country seeks to return to normalcy. Kishida said Friday he has instructed experts and government officials to discuss the details on lowering COVID-19's status. A change would also remove self-isolation rules and other anti-virus requirements and allow COVID-19 patients to seek treatment at any hospital instead of only specialized facilities.