Useful Info About COVID-19 in Japan: Hospitalization, Work Protection and more

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  • The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is raging around the planet, affecting everyone’s lives. With the virus still being researched as it spreads, information and measures are quickly changing, depending on the data.

    Here are some official resources:

    The World Health Organization
    JNTO Advisory regarding COVID-19 – useful and constantly updated information on visa policy changes, useful numbers to call etc.
    JNTO General Guidelines for seeking medical help

    The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) also has a multilingual coronavirus hotline in English, Chinese and Korean which is available 24 hours a day. The number (when calling from Japan) is 050-3816-2787.

    If you are in Japan as a tourist with a visa that is expiring, but you have no way of leaving the country, there are extensions possible. The Ministry of Justice of Japan released details in English here

    Here’s some other useful information about COVID-19 foreign residents in Japan.

    What are most common symptoms of COVID-19?

    The COVID-19 belongs to a group of coronaviruses that attack the respiratory system. The new virus is still being studied, but according to the World Health Organization the symptoms are flu-like and common cold-like. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and involve a dry cough, fever (of varying degrees), tiredness, and difficulty breathing. In some patients there is also runny nose, sore throat, and in rare cases diarrhea. New data (as reported by the NHK World Japan) indicates that coronavirus infection might lead to loss of smell and taste in some patients, a symptom that might be easy to notice.

    An infected person can have all of the symptoms, some of them, or none (asymptomatic case). This is why it’s important to monitor your condition, and even write down a diary to show to the doctor.

    Current data shows that roughly 80% of the cases can recover without being admitted to the ICU. However, an estimated 1 out of every 6 people infected becomes seriously ill and in need of hospitalization. Older people and chronically ill people are at a higher risk of complications should they get infected.

    What to do if you suspect you have the virus?

    The COVID-19 is an insidious infection, as it takes a long time to manifest and it resembles other mild seasonal illnesses that humans can easily fight off. Even if you have mild symptoms of a respiratory illness, make sure to self-isolate if possible, monitor your symptoms and if they persist or worsen seek medical attention.

    Do not take medicine without consulting the doctor. Do not take antibiotics, as they don’t work against viruses, only against bacteria.

    When seeking medical help, due to the infectious nature of COVID-19 and to avoid overwhelming the medical staff, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has asked people to call a helpline first, and call their doctors/clinics before visiting. You cannot walk in a hospital and demand a test, as a doctor needs to recommend your case for PCR testing first. Moreover, only certain hospitals are designated for handling COVID-19 suspect cases.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has created a flowchart to help you pinpoint the state of your symptoms and what action to take accordingly.
    They also have the Tokyo Novel Coronavirus Call Center (Support in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese)
    From 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (including weekends and holidays)
    TEL: 0570-550571 (from Japan)

    Is the COVID-19 affecting your job? There’s HELP

    The pandemic is causing businesses to slow down or close down, especially hitting the travel and hospitality industry. Very often, foreigners are either temporary staff or employed to cater to incoming tourists which are no longer coming, so it’s their livelihood that is threatened among the first.

    The Ministry of Justice of Japan, firmly states that “Even when the new coronavirus(COVID-19) has caused a decrease in business to the company, companies are not allowed be treat foreign workers less favorably than Japanese workers just because they are foreigners.” The Japanese labour protections help every worker regardless of nationality.
    The Ministry issued this document in multiple languages to let foreign workers know they have equal rights, like salary compensation, paid leave etc.

    If you need help, please consult your local labour bureau, labour standards supervision office or public employment
    security office (Hello Work).

    There are also talks of Government subsidies for the companies to keep paying workers’ salaries, and plans for financially helping families that have lost most of their income due to the pandemic.

    If you are a recent Japanese school graduate and you were promised a job at a Japanese company starting in April, but then the company said that you could not work from April, you need to consult The Public Employment Security Office. Check the Ministry of Justice info here.

    The Ministry of Justice of Japan (Japanese only)

    How to protect yourself from the virus?

    Social Distancing – Although not forced, it is recommended by the Japanese authorities to stay away from crowds, especially in small and closed spaces like bars, karaoke, etc. Meet as few people as possible and stay at a reasonable distance from them. The virus is not airborne, but it does transmit in close proximity, by coughing, or by sneezing (reaching far and staying in the air longer).

    A lot of the COVID-19 infection clusters in Japan have been traced back to live concerts and pubs, among other locations like hospitals and nursing homes.

    Work from home – Many companies have been urged to let their staff work from home as much as possible and facilitate the process (provide equipment, software, task flow plans etc.) If possible, ask your company to work from home, if not all days at least some. Working from home limits commute, thus limiting geographical spread of the virus, and eases the rush hour crowds in the train.

    How is Japan dealing with teleworking?
    Avoid public transport – Whether you work or not, avoid public transport as much as possible. Public transport has a high frequency of people and an increased risk of virus transmission. Walk, cycle, and if you do use public transport, try not to touch anything inside.

    Hygiene – Keep surfaces and hands as clean as possible, the more frequently cleaned the better. One way the virus is transmitted is from droplets that have fallen on surfaces, or an infected person has sneezed in their hand and than touched surfaces. Regularly wipe down handles, clean products you have bought with alcohol or soapy water, be careful where you put your shoes, clean your phone, keys and wallet etc.

    Clean or keep in the genkan outer layers like coats worn outside. Wash clothes that you have worn outside and touched surfaces with.

    Wash your hands with water and soap thoroughly, it is more effective than hand disinfectant.

    Wearing a mask – The advice on wearing a mask has been confusing and changing by the day. The consensus seems to be that wearing one is better than not wearing it for several reasons. Chiefly, the infected need to wear a mask to limit transmission, but many are asymptomatic at first. If everyone wears a mask, the infected wear a mask too, and there is no stigma attached to those wearing masks. Due to lack of masks, you can try making reusable washable cloth masks.

    WHO mask guidelines

    Don’t touch your face – The virus has to enter through your mouth, nose, and in some cases eyes, in order to infect you. That’s why it’s important not to touch your face when you’re out. A face mask can help with that to a degree, as many tend to absentmindedly touch their face. Even when home, to err on the side of caution it’s better to not touch your face.

    Multilingual hotlines in various Japanese prefectures
    • Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center Himawari (03-5285-8181). Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Thai.
    • Saitama Prefecture (048-833-3296). Languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Nepalese.
    • Osaka Prefecture (06-6941-2297). Languages: iEnglish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Indonesian and Nepalese.
    • Kyoto Prefecture (075-343-9666). Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Portuguese and Spanish.
    • Hyogo Prefecture (078-382-2052). Languages: English, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese.
    • Gunma Prefecture (027-289-8275). Languages: English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.
    • Yamaguchi Prefecture (092-687-6639). Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Nepali, Tagalog, Indonesian, Portuguese, German, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Malay, Burmese and Khmer.
    • Hiroshima Prefecture (0120-783-806). Languages: English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Portuguese, Indonesian, Thai, Spanish and Nepalese.
    • Shiga Prefecture (077-523-5646). Languages: English, Chinese, Portuguese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Nepalese, Korean, Spanish, Russian and Hindi.
    • Wakayama Prefecture (073-435-5240). Languages: English, Chinese and Tagalog.
    • Mie Prefecture (080-3300-8077). Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Indonesian and Thai.
    • Gifu Prefecture (058-263-8066). Languages: English, Chinese, Portuguese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Nepalese, Korean, Spanish, Khmer, Myanmar, Malay and Mongolian.
    • Kumamoto Prefecture (080-4275-4489). Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Indonesian, Tagalog, Thai, Portuguese, Spanish, Malay, French, Russian, German, Italian, Burmese, Khmer and Mongolian.
    • Fukuoka Prefecture (092-286-9595). Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Nepali, Tagalog, Indonesian, Portuguese, German, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Malay, Burmese and Khmer.
    • Okinawa Prefecture (0570-050-235). Languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese and Thai.
    • Hokkaido Prefecture (011-200-9595). Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Russian, Nepalese, Indonesian and Burmese.
    *Featured Image from AC photo
    : AC photo/