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26 Feb 2020 | 06:46 AM UTC

Japan: Authorities announce new measures to contain COVID-19 spread February 25 /update 8

Authorities announce new measures to contain COVID-19 spread including work from home initiatives and school closures February 25



On Tuesday, February 25, Japanese authorities announced several new measures to attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These measures include urging companies to recommend telecommuting and staggered shifts to reduce potential exposure, and requesting event organizers to reconsider or reschedule plans for large gatherings.

Officials in severely affected prefectures, including the northern Hokkaido Prefecture, are seeking to close schools effective Thursday, February 27. Several football games have also been canceled.

As of February 25, there are 159 confirmed cases in Japan, concentrated in the Tokyo, Hokkaido, and Ishikawa Prefectures. This excludes the 691 cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Tokyo, where four patients have died from the virus.

Further 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 more than 30 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 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.