New Corona virus (Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2) infection in Japan
New Corona virus (Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2) infection in Japan
Alumnus, Azabu University
◼The first Covid-19 case in Japan *1
On January 16, 2020, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan, announced that a case of the new coronavirus was detected in a man in his 30s, living in Kanagawa prefecture who had returned to Japan after staying in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. While still in Wuhan City, the man already had fever from January 3, 2020. After returning to Japan on January 6, 2020, he visited a hospital in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, and was then diagnosed as being infected with Covid-19. Many of the infected cases in Wuhan were thought to be associated with the seafood market there. However, this Japanese patient said that he did not visit the market there, but have lived with patients who were suspected to have the new corona virus during his stay in China.
◼Present Covid-19 situation in Japan (June 23, 2020) *2
Total cases: 18,096
Since January 16, 2020, there has been an increase in the number of cases who acquired the infection through intimate contact with confirmed patients, as well as the outbreak of hospital-acquired infections. On February 3, 2020, the cruise ship Diamond Princess (hereinafter referred to as the cruise ship) sailed into Yokohama Port. She was confirmed to carry infected passengers on February 5, 2020 and the Japanese government quarantined all the passengers and crews on board the cruise ship. Only the sick passengers were brought ashore to the hospital for treatment. Many mistakes and negligence on the prevention of the virus transmission were made regarding to the quarantine measures carried out on board the cruise ship. As a result, 712 passengers and crews were found to be infected, with 13 death and 651 recovered. After the cruise ship incident, the number of patients whose infection route could not be traced increased exponentially, and the number of infected persons per day reached 368 on April 7, 2020. On that day, 7 prefectures and metropolitan cities (Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka) issued an emergency declaration regarding the disease. On April 16, 2020, with 576 new infections cases reported per day, the emergency declaration was extended to all the 47 prefectures and metropolitan cities nationwide. This declaration request people to refrain from going out and suspend commercial activities, recreational facilities, restaurant operation and festive events. Unlike other countries, it was a self-restraint request not to go out. Despite without any police enforcement, the number of people in the streets was significantly reduced.
About one month later, on May 25, 2020, with only 21 new infections per day, the national emergency declaration was lifted. And from June 19, 2020, with 57 new infections per day, it became possible to travel to other prefectures. There is a feeling that life is gradually returning to that of those before the spread of the infection.
◼Changes seen in Japan due to the coronavirus outbreak
- Shortage and soaring prices of household goods and commodities
Items such as alcohol disinfectant, face mask and toilet paper became unavailable at shops and supermarkets. This is because alcohol disinfectant is deemed to be effective in removing the virus from the environment as well as from fingers and hand. Face mask if thought to reduce transmission of the virus to others. Toilet paper became scarce because there was a rumor that toilet paper were made from the same materials as that of the face mask. The reason for hoarding or over buying of these items is because of the news reporting that certain items had been sold out in the shop. The over buying and stocking of household items lead to the production of these items not being able to catch up, resulting in the products being unavailable at the retail level as well as leading to price increase.
- Promotion of telework
After the issuance of the emergency declaration, a great change was seen in the companies, with the workers being requested to work from home as much as possible, using the internet. As a result, the number of people travelling outdoor or going outside has decreased so much so that one can find a seat in the usually packed morning train. In many cases, it was difficult to put the telework into operation to the unfamiliarity with telework. It was difficult to set up a cyber network environment for introducing telework. However, by working from home, many people had more time for their hobbies, and they could spend more time with their family members. Thus, their commuting hours had been changed to more meaningful times. In addition, some companies have found that they can still operate without their worker going to office to work. I think it is a good opportunity for each and every one to think about what we can do in the future.
◼On infection control in Japan *3
To prevent the medical support collapse and spread of infection (control of cluster outbreak), the following measures were requested of the public after the coronavirus infection started.
- Avoid “3 dense” (Avoid closed or poorly ventilated space or room; Avoid congregating with other people; Avoid close contact with other people)
- Wearing a mask (Observe coughing etiquette)
- Washing hands frequently and gargling
In addition, the corona virus has changed our lifestyle to a new “normal”. To co-exist with the virus, new rule and regulations has been introduced in commercial facilities, schools and companies. These include regular ventilation and social distancing to prevent congestion among humans. Various measures are also taken, such as keeping a distance of more than 2 m apart, admission restrictions, temperature measurement, obligatory wearing of a face mask or face shield, and setting up alcohol disinfectant for hands at the entrance of the commercial establishments.
- *1: Mix Online 20200117 (https://www.mixonline.jp/tabid55.html?artid=68616)
- *2: NHK (https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/special/coronavirus/chronology/)
- *3: Ministry of Welfare, Labour and Health
- *4: Nihon Keizai Shinbum 20200408
- *5: JIJIcom (https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2020020500166&g=eco)