Coronavirus Update (25 February)

Last week the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Kyushu emerged in Fukuoka. As of 25th Februray, 4 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Kumamoto Prefecture; three in Kumamoto City and one in Kamimashiki. 

Due to these confirmed cases of domestic transmission of coronavirus in Japan whose route of transmission is unclear/cannot be connected with China, the following criteria for contacting your local health centre (保健所, hokenjo) have been implemented:

If you experience any of the following symptoms, please contact your local health centre (保健所, hokenjo) regardless of whether you have recently travelled to Hubei or Zhejiang provinces, or have had prolonged contact with someone who has been to Hubei or Zhejiang provinces.

  1. Cold symptoms that continue for 4 days or longer, or a fever of 37.5˚C or higher that continues for 4 days or longer, including when taking fever-reducing medication (2 days for elderly individuals or those with underlying conditions); or
  2. Severe drowsiness (fatigue) or difficulty breathing

If you experience these symptoms, refrain from going to clinics or hospitals. Instead, please contact your local hokenjo by telephone, explain your symptoms and await further instructions. We recommend asking your tantosha to call on your behalf.

In addition, at this time we would also like to ask all Kumamoto JETs to contact the PAs if you have any symptoms.

And again, here are the telephone numbers for the hokenjo across the prefecture:

Ariake (Tamana, Arao, Nagasu) – 0968-72-2184
Yamaga – 0968-44-4121
Kikuchi (Kikuchi, Ozu) – 0968-25-4138
Aso (Aso, Ubuyama, Nishihara) – 0967-24-9030
Mifune (Yamato, Mashiki, Mifune, Kosa, Kashima)- 096-282-0016
Uki (Uto, Misato) – 0964-32-1207
Yatsushiro – 0965-33-3229
Minamata (Ashikita, Tsunagi, Minamata) – 0966-63-4104
Hitoyoshi (Asagiri, Kuma, Nishiki, Sagara, Yamae) – 0966-22-3107
Amakusa (Amakusa, Kamiamakusa) – 0969-23-0172
Kumamoto City – 096-372-0705 or 096-364-3222

The Kumamoto City and Kumamoto Prefectural Boards of Education have also announced that they will close a school for a minimum of two weeks in the event that any students, parents/guardians, or teachers, or people cohabiting with them have Covid-19. This applies to ALTs as well. Municipal ALTs, please ask your tantosha to find out your city, town or village’s BOE policy on school closures.

Kumamoto Prefectural Government has also cancelled a large number of prefecturally-sponsored events, such as the Kumamoto UNESCO Association’s bus tour to Hitoyoshi, and Kumamon’s 10th birthday festival. For a list of cancelled events, see this document from the Kumamoto Prefecture homepage:

In terms of travelling overseas at this time, there are a number of countries and regions outside of China where Covid-19 appears to be spreading rapidly. They include, but are not limited to, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Hokkaido has also seen a spike in reported cases. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has not yet released any new travel advisories (apart from the existing ones concerning Hubei and Zhejiang provinces), and decisions about whether or not to travel are yours. (Update: MOFA issued a travel advisory concerning Daegu, South Korea (see map here). We strongly encourage you to exercise caution and make any decision about travel in close collaboration with your contracting organisation. If there is a new advisory or exclusion made by MOFA while you are abroad, or you contract the virus, you may not be able to re-enter Japan.

Finally, although the risk to the non-elderly and those without underlying medical conditions appears to be low, and it may not be possible to prevent the spread of Covid-19 indefinitely, it is still very important to make all efforts to ensure the virus does not spread rapidly, as this could overwhelm the capacity of medical institutions to respond.

Let’s stay calm, rational and informed as the situation unfolds. If there are any major changes to the situation, we will continue to do our best to keep everyone updated and provide accurate information from the prefecture. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time.

Bilal and Lily