On Saturday, April 18, Japanese health authorities announced that 10,150 cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as well as over 200 related fatalities have been confirmed nationwide. The number of cases in the country has rapidly increased and, as authorities accelerated testing, it doubled in the space of ten days.
On Thursday, April 16, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the current state of emergency would be extended to the entire country until Wednesday, May 6. The state of emergency had previously been in place from Tuesday, April 7, for the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka. Abe stated that expanding the state of emergency is aimed at reducing movement ahead of the Golden Week holiday between Sunday, May 3, and Wednesday, May 6. Upon its announcement on April 7, the emergency did not include a lockdown; however, it gave prefecture governments the power to request that residents remain at home unless they are buying food or seeking medical assistance. The state of emergency also authorizes governors to close schools, public spaces, and other facilities.
The Japanese government previously announced on Tuesday, March 31, that it would be extending an entry ban to foreign nationals from 49 more countries, including the US, Canada, China, South Korea, and most European countries and some parts of Southeast Asia, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The updated list covers a total of 73 countries, which can be found here. Foreign travelers who have been to these areas in the last 14 days will be prohibited from entering Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also advised its citizens against nonessential travel abroad, particularly to the countries mentioned in the latest measures. The 2020 Olympics, originally set to take place in Tokyo, has also been pushed back to 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.