TOKYO (TR) – Delayed announcements of stars testing positive for the novel coronavirus have not been the norm since the pandemic began last year. However, that was the case this week for actress Satomi Ishihara.
On Thursday, the agency said that Ishihara, 34, underwent a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test last month and tested positive.
“With no symptoms [of COVID-19], she has been recovering at home,” the agency said. “She is scheduled to return to work this weekend.”
The announcement came after weekly tabloid Josei Seven (Feb. 18-25) reported on the positive test.
“Proceed with the shooting of the other scenes”
“To prevent the spread of infection, PCR tests are almost always performed on the sets of new shoots,” a person in the television industry tells the tabloid. “In mid-January, a test conducted on the first day of a shoot revealed that the lead actress, Satomi Ishihara, came back positive. She appeared to be asymptomatic and very surprised [by the result].”
The source went on to say that all Ishihara’s scenes — for what is a television drama — were subsequently postponed. “Fortunately, there was no co-star who was deemed a close contact,” the source continues, “so it was decided to proceed with the shooting of the other scenes.”
Since the pandemic began last year, agencies have been quickly announcing any positive tests for their stars. That was not the case for Ishihara violated a general rule in the industry.
“If a star is absent from a public event or cancels an appearance due to infection, an explanation is required,” a person in the entertainment industry says. “Therefore, there is a public announcement.
For Ishihara, her appearance in the drama had not been officially announced.
“So there is no need to explain her absence to anyone other than concerned parties,” the entertainment insider says. “She never missed a public appearance, so that is the likely reason her agency did not make it public.”
Another person in the television industry says the non-announcement is strategic. If news of her infection surfaces, she’ll invariably be asked what she is working on at the moment.
“The leaking of the information on a drama is strategically done through a set promotion period,” the source says. “So the production side would have wanted to avoid doing that when announcing that a performer tested positive.”
There are other problems, including false positives. PCR testing on sets takes place daily, says the aforementioned person in the entertainment industry.
“If [a performer] tests negative on the set of a drama one day, they have another PCR test if they work at another set the next day,” the source says. “Some entertainers are tested two or three times a week, and if you test with this kind of frequency, you may get a false positive. One actor announced that he had tested positive immediately after receiving the result, but beginning the next day he tested negative. Yet he was forced to quarantine for two weeks because he was once positive.”