Japan’s Efforts to Limit the Coronavirus Outbreak

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An official describes the measures the government has taken, including a cruise ship quarantine, amid worries about the coming Olympics.

The Op-Ed’s depiction and characterization of Japan’s fight against the novel coronavirus are unfair. To start with, the government alerted the public about the virus even before the first case of infection in Japan on Jan. 15 and took proactive measures for border control.

To repatriate Japanese citizens in Hubei Province, the government negotiated with the Chinese authorities and dispatched five chartered flights to Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 17.

Since Jan. 30, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has summoned meetings almost every day, and gave instructions to relevant ministers and deputies to take proactive countermeasures.

As for the Diamond Princess, a British-flagged cruise ship, the first case of infection was discovered on Feb. 1, and that was when the ship had not reached Yokohama Port. The Japanese government admitted the ship to anchor in Yokohama on humanitarian grounds. An unprecedented quarantine operation for a ship with around 3,700 people on board took place, and the government has done its utmost despite challenging circumstances.

According to preliminary findings by experts, substantial transmission of the virus had already occurred among many on the ship before its arrival in Yokohama, and the quarantine was effective in preventing further drastic spread of the virus on the ship. Such efforts were appreciated by foreign governments and the World Health Organization.

In Japan, the government consolidated all relevant countermeasures and announced Basic Policies on Feb. 26, drawing on the expert analysis of leading infectious diseases scientists. The government has taken bold and timely measures such as restrictions on large-scale events and closure of schools.

Japan will continue to take every necessary measure to suppress this outbreak, and to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and successful.

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