Culture

Is it Safe to visit Japan as the Coronavirus Cases Increase?

Here's the situation regarding COVID-19 in Japan so far.

By 6 min read

Update: Effective April 03, Japan will implement an entry ban that includes the U.S., China, South Korea, and most of Europe.
On January 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 or the coronavirus a global emergency. To date, the total number of confirmed infected worldwide has surpassed 900,000 and 45,000 deaths. The government of Japan has begun strict measures to curb the virus from spreading further.

The Japan National Tourism Organization has a multilingual coronavirus hotline for those who think they may be affected. Support is available in English, Chinese, and Korean 24 hours a day.

If you’re living in Japan or planning to visit, you may be wondering how safe it is. What can you do to protect yourself? What events have been affected? Will the virus impact travel plans outside of Japan and greater Asia?

Here is the most up-to-date run-down we can give. It is worth noting, however, that because this is a new and fast-spreading virus, what we know now could change in the future.

What’s Japan’s infection rate?

As of April 01, more than 2,500 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Japan. This does not include the 712 confirmed cases that were found on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship

In Japan, there are more than 70 confirmed deaths. In comparison, the total number of confirmed deaths in China is more than 3,300.

Are flights in and out of Japan affected?

73 nations now on Japan’s no-entry list.

As reported by The Asahi Shimbun, it was confirmed in late March that one in four coronavirus infections in Japan were from abroad. From April 03, a total of 73 nations and regions, including the U.S., China, and South Korea, will be designated as Level 3 on Japan’s Infectious Disease Warning Scale.

Foreign travelers who have visited any of these countries within 14 days of arriving in Japan will be denied entry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has issued a firm warning, stating that “barring special circumstances, there won’t be any exceptions.

One in four coronavirus infections in Japan were from abroad.

The rest of the world has been designated as Level 2 on Japan’s Infectious Disease Warning Scale. Visitors from those nations and territories are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks and avoid public transportation.

Additionally, 29 nations have also restricted entry from Japan, while more than 70 require those traveling from Japan to be quarantined upon entry or ask that they self-isolate.

Level 3 nations and regions

[Asia-Pacific/ 12 nations and regions] China, South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, New Zealand, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia

[North America/ 2 nations] United States, Canada

[Central and South America/ 6 nations] Ecuador, Chile, Dominica, Panama, Brazil, Bolivia

[Europe/ 21 nations] Albania, Armenia, Britain, North Macedonia, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovakia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland, Bulgaria, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, San Marino, Iceland, Andorra, Italy, Estonia, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Slovenia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Vatican, France, Belgium, Malta, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal

[Middle East and Africa/ 8 nations] Israel, Iran, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Turkey, Bahrain, Mauritius, Morocco

Can I deliver or receive mail in Japan?

Japan Post will stop deliveries to/from 153 countries.

Coronavirus has affected mail delivery in Japan.

Japan Post has released a statement that reads, “transportation performance has significantly declined,” and that as of April 02, it has temporarily ceased acceptance of international inbound mail through EMS and airmail from 126 countries and territories. Additionally, all types of mail from 27 countries have been temporally suspended.

To view all affected countries and territories, please view the official list from Japan Post.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are postponed

The government has finally postponed the Olympics to 2021.

After weeks of stating the contrary, Prime Minister Abe and the International Olympic Committee have finally postponed the Tokyo Olympics until the summer of 2021.

“We are committed to holding the Games in a complete form when we can prove that human beings have overcome illness caused by the new coronavirus,” said Abe.

Games tickets that are already purchased will be valid for a new date.

The Olympic flame will remain in Japan, and organizers have stated the following in regards to ticket holders:

  • In principle, Games tickets that are already purchased will be valid for a new date.
  • Your tickets will be refunded if you will not be able to visit the venue on a new date and wish to receive a refund.
  • In case we cannot secure your place for a new date due to the change in schedule and/or venue, your tickets will be refunded.
  • Previously, we planned to deliver the Games tickets from June, but we have decided to suspend delivery for now.

Should you wear a mask to protect yourself against the coronavirus?

Masks are not as effective as people think.

You only need to wear a mask if you are in contact with someone suspected of being sick, or if you are sick. According to WHO, “masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”

In reality, washing your hands is far more effective than wearing a mask.

In Japan, there is a nation-wide mask shortage, and resell has been banned. People line up outside stores early in the morning, and they sell out as quickly as they are restocked. 

How should you protect yourself against the coronavirus?

Good hygiene is your best weapon against coronavirus.

There are a few key preventative measures you should take while in Japan to decrease your risk of getting infected. These are the same general rules that you should apply during the cold and flu season, really.

Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial agents and soap

This is especially important before touching your face or eating, and after coming in contact with animals and public spaces like restaurants and public transportation.

Avoid touching your face

This is something we do so often and a key way through which viruses can get into the body.

Avoid taking the train during rush hour

The virus is spread via respiratory droplets—easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Obviously, you want to avoid contact with sick people and try to maintain at least a one-meter distance between yourself and infected persons. Riding the train during morning and evening rush hours in major cities like Tokyo may increase your chance of exposure.

Wipe down surfaces before using them

This is important in public spaces with high turnover rates, such as fast-food restaurants.

What should you do if you think you have the coronavirus?

JNTO, the Japan National Tourism Organization, has a multilingual coronavirus hotline for those who think they may be affected. Support is available in English, Chinese, and Korean 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Check the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare’s website for updates as the situation gradually changes. The Ministry has also provided a list of hospitals in Japan that are able to provide testing and treatment for the virus. Unfortunately, the list is in Japanese only.

We will continue to update this page as the story in Japan develops.

Please call the JNTO Multilingual Hotline at 050-3816-2787 in English, Japanese, or Korean in the event of emergencies related to the coronavirus.

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