Coronavirus Update (26 March)

Hello Kumamoto,
Here are some more updates:

●Additional cases in Kumamoto and Oita
One additional case of COVID-19 was identified in Kumamoto City last night, bringing the total number of cases in the prefecture to 8. The case is of a male in his 70s who began having a fever on Saturday. On the 24th, he underwent a CT scan and was referred to the health centre for a PCR test, which was positive. Authorities are currently investigating the man’s travel history and contacts. Press release:
http://www.city.kumamoto.jp/common/UploadFileDsp.aspx?c_id=5&id=26562&sub_id=176&flid=200374

27 March Update → 
More details have been released about the 8th confirmed COVID-19 case in Kumamoto we e-mailed about yesterday. 
The patient does not have a fixed address and reportedly frequented an 24-hour onsen facility in Higashi-ku, Kumamoto City known as “Peaceful You You You” (ピースフル優祐悠, https://www.peaceful.jp/). He had been staying at the onsen overnight since 7th March and continued using the facility even after he began showing symptoms on the 21st March last week. When not making trips outside during the day, he spent most of his time in the rest area of the onsen facility.
Since the rest area of the onsen is a closed space, Kumamoto City says there is a possibility of mass infection among people who used the facility, and is asking anyone who is worried they may have been exposed to contact their local health centre. 
After symptoms appeared on the 21st, the patient visited the Higashi Ward Office on the 23rd where he spoke to two city employees and visited a medical facility on the 24th to receive a prescription for high blood pressure medication. He tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.
PCR tests have been conducted on 30 staff members of the onsen, 4 city employees and 2 friends of the infected indvidual, and all the tests have come back negative.
The onsen facility is closed and today Kumamoto City public health officials are disinfecting the facility. It is set to re-open tomorrow. 
Here is the full article in Japanese: https://kumanichi.com/news/1405881/


An outbreak has occurred at a medical centre in Oita. 25 cases are now confirmed within Oita Prefecture alone, 24 of which are connected with the medical centre. You can read a statement by the Governor of Oita translated into English, as well as find the links to case summaries on this page: https://www.pref.oita.jp/soshiki/10140/coronavirus2019-english.html

●School re-openings
Yesterday the Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education held a press conference, in which they indicated their intention to re-open schools both for classes and club activities in the new school year in April, while taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus at school by shortening entrance/opening ceremonies. Kumamoto Prefecture also issued a request to all the other municipal boards of education, asking them to follow suit and open schools depending on the situation in their local areas.

●New measures by MOFA
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has raised all international travel to a “Level 2” advisory, asking Japanese nationals to avoid non-essential travel abroad (https://www.anzen.mofa.go.jp/covid19/info0325.html)

As we mentioned in an e-mail last week, MOFA imposed immigration restrictions on arrivals from Europe. MOFA is now also strengthening immigration restrictions on arrivals from the United States. As of today (26 March), the United States has been added to the list of countries from which people entering Japan must self-isolate for two weeks after arrival. 
Arrivals from the the list of countries in this document, which now includes the United States, must have a place to stay for 14 days after entering Japan and secure, in advance, a method of transportation from the airport other than public transport (e.g., personal or rental vehicle).

●Situation in Tokyo
As you have probably already heard, daily numbers of cases have been steadily increasing in the nation’s capital throughout the month of March. Yesterday (25 March) saw the highest number of confirmed infections since records began, with 41 confirmed cases in one day, more than double the number of cases from the day before. The route of transmission is unknown for 68 of the 134 total cases confirmed so far in March.

At a press conference yesterday, the Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike emphasised that Tokyo is at a critical juncture in preventing an “overshoot”, or a large and uncontrollable surge in cases. Koike requested that Tokyoites work from home if possible, and refrain from unnecessary outings in the evening and at the coming weekend. These are the same measures that were put in place in Hokkaido in late February. Tokyo now overtakes Hokkaido as having the highest number of confirmed cases, with 212 cases at the time of this update.

Earlier this week, Koike signalled that a lockdown of Tokyo is possible, but that measure has not yet been taken. 

Read more:http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13244625 – Tokyo governor urges residents to stay at home at weekend
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13240195 – Koike warns of ‘lockdown’ option if infections surge in Tokyo

And back to Kumamoto again (Mayor Onishi on hanami)
At a press conference yesterday Mayor Onishi of Kumamoto City urged residents of Kumamoto to avoid eating and drinking in public parks, such as near Kumamoto Castle or Ezuko Park, during the upcoming hanami season for the time being. The city will also not be re-opening Miyukizaka (sakura-lined pathway leading up to the castle) for special viewing to the public during this year’s hanami season.
(https://kumanichi.com/news/1404240/)

As unfortunate as it is, we would like Kumamoto JETs to also be aware of this request and re-consider their plans for enjoying this hanami season accordingly.

That’s all for now. – Lily & Bilal