No lockdowns, No Mass testing, Here’s how Japan Won Over the First Phase of COVID-19

Japan coronavirus (1)

On Monday, Japan lifted the state of emergency as the number of coronavirus cases dropped to mere dozens. Japan reached the stage without lockdowns or even mass testing.

Japan hadn’t placed restrictions on the movement of people and nor it asked the businesses or hotels or gymnasiums to shut. It didn’t use a high-tech surveillance app. Despite not having a center for disease control and testing only 0.2 percent of its population, Japan has managed to flatten the curve even as the number of deaths stayed under 1,000 – fewest among the developed nations.


In its capital city, Tokyo, the number of cases has dropped to single digits. While there is a chance of the second wave, Japan has successfully managed to cover the first wave of the coronavirus.

The Analysis of Japan’s success story reveals that the country didn’t play by the book like the rest of the countries even though it was successful in containing the virus unlike the countries that have played by the book. A deep analysis shows that there wasn’t one reason that made the difference.

The media carried a list of 43 possible reasons that could have helped Japan to flatten the curve. The list ranged from a culture of wearing masks to relatively low obesity rates and to the early decision of closing schools.


Contact Tracing

Even as there are accusations on the central government for its slow policy steps, the contract tracers of Japan jumped into action as soon as the first case was reported. The country benefitted from its public health policy which employed over 50,000 nurses who are experienced in contact tracing in 2018. During normal times, they are involved in tracing common infections like Influenza and tuberculosis. The system is quite analog and is not application-driven.

The United States and the United Kingdom are now hiring contract tracers as they are looking to restart economies while the Japanese were quick to respond after the first infection was discovered.

Japan coronavirus
Courtesy: Al Jazeera

The Burning Car phenomenon

The early response by the Japanese government can be credited to the Diamond Princess Cruise ship that led to hundreds of infections. This was picked up by the national media and helped Japanese experts to prepare for the crisis that was yet to happen. While other countries saw the virus as someone else’s problem, professor Mikhito Tanaka believes that the Japanese saw the problem as the burning car right outside your house.


Health Consciousness

Shigeru Omi, the deputy head of the expert panel that is advising the Japanese government feels that the major factor that has helped the country to combat the virus is the Japanese people’s health consciousness. The possibility of the virus spreading in Japan would have been different and less dangerous, thanks to people’s awareness.

However, compared to its other Asian neighbors, Japan has acted reasonably slower as Taiwan had just seven confirmed deaths while Vietnam has none. Even as Japan has avoided one of the worst health calamities mankind has seen, the country has suffered a massive economic impact that was coupled with the impact of the sales tax hike in October.

A more dangerous second wave awaits Japan but having combated the first wave, the country has bought time to prepare for the worst outcome that is yet to come.


Source: The Times of India