The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Japan continues to rise as of Friday, February 28, with 214 cases confirmed nationwide. On Thursday, February 27, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested all elementary, middle, and high schools to close from Monday, March 2, through early April to prevent further spread of the virus. While the request is not legally binding, most schools are expected to temporarily close in the coming days. The government has also asked for sporting events and other large gathering to be delayed for at least two weeks.
Entry restrictions and travel disruptions related to the COVID-19 outbreak are also ongoing as of Friday. Travelers arriving in Japan from China’s Zhejiang and Hubei provinces will be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Japan Airlines has suspended and reduced flights between mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan until at least March 28 due to the outbreak and reduced demand. Up-to-date flight information on service suspensions and disruptions can be found on the Japan Airlines website here.
Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected in the coming days and 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 February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.