The current novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) that appears to have originated in China at the end of December 2019 has many people around the world concerned for their health and safety. For foreigners living and working in Japan, it is important to be informed and protect yourself from the illness.
Coronavirus (CoV) are a large family of viruses that can be disturbingly transmitted between animals and humans. They are so common that you have more than likely been affected by a coronavirus at some point in your life. If you have ever caught a simple cold, that was caused by a coronavirus. That doesn’t mean that there is no cause for worry, though. Coronavirus can cause a range of problems, from the common cold mentioned above, to life-threatening illnesses. Unfortunately, the novel coronavirus we are talking about here seems to fall into the deadlier category.
Experts worldwide are working hard to share information and prevent the spread of the dangerous virus. As it is an ongoing situation, please check the WHO website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. There are the currently known symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
For now, lets have a quick look at the situation as it relates to Japan so that you can manage your anxiety and expectations.
Cases of the New Coronavirus in Japan
A male bus driver in his 60’s was the first case of the novel coronavirus in Japan. He reportedly drove tourists from the Wuhan area in Nara, Japan. Shortly after that, a tour guide on the same bus was also afflicted with the virus. The Japanese government has implemented regulations to help contain the outbreak, but the number confirmed cases in Japan is nearing 1,000. In the early weeks of the outbreak in Japan, a cruise ship greatly contributed, as the quarantined passengers tested positive more and more. On the cruise ship, there were approximately 3,700 passengers. When the passengers were released, some were not double checked.
As of now, 3 people have lost their lives to the virus.
As Prime Minister Abe vows to protect Japan from the virus, immigration has tightened. Though it may seem terrifying to many, it is important to remain calm. Be alert, but not anxious. The extremely caution taken by the government and world health officials is a precaution to prevent the virus from wildly spreading. You can never be too careful. It is also important to note that the extreme cases which resulted in death mostly affected the elderly or young children.
How to Stay Healthy During Japan's Coronavirus Crisis
You may have noticed that people in Japan often use facemasks for sanitary purposes during flu or allergy season, and there has certainly been an increase in masked passengers and pedestrians across the country. While it is not necessarily harmful, these loose-fitting facemasks are not particularly helpful either. They can’t be completely relied on to protect from the virus. Instead, professionals emphasize that washing hands is the most effective way to stay healthy during the outbreak. It is believed that the virus is spread through tiny water droplets that can be picked up by your hands. From there it may find its way into your mucus membranes as you touch your face throughout the day.
Here is some advice straight from the WHO:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Despite the threat of the novel coronavirus, people in Japan are living and enjoying their daily lives as usual. As a country, Japan is quite sanitary and has good healthcare. Continue to follow us for more information on how to live comfortably and happy in Japan.