Japan government lays out detailed measures to prevent and combat Covid-19 clusters

A medical worker conducting a simulated PCR test at Narita Airport's new PCR Centre, on Nov 2, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA) - The Japanese government has decided to strengthen its measures against Covid-19 clusters, in response to the virus spreading in Hokkaido and other areas of Japan.

The government called for stores and offices to keep their buildings thoroughly ventilated - even as the temperature begins to drop - among other measures as the risk of the virus rapidly spreading increases.

"We are dealing with the situation with the utmost caution," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a meeting at the Headquarters for Novel Coronavirus Disease Control on Tuesday (Nov 10). "We will take pre-emptive measures based on our past experiences to protect the lives and health of the people."

As of Tuesday night, the cumulative confirmed number of Covid-19 cases in Japan was 110,616, with a death toll of 1,864.

The policies that were created on Tuesday were based on an urgent proposal made on Monday by the government's panel of experts on measures to combat the coronavirus.

As it is difficult to detect clusters in restaurants and other entertainment establishments in the nightlife district, as well as among foreign residents and university students and other young people who are asymptomatic, the plan is to identify the clusters early by taking measures that are specific to each demographic.

Mr Suga said the government will deal with clusters more thoroughly than before.

Foreign residents will be provided information in multiple languages and consultations will be more readily available.

Universities will do their part to raise awareness among students and provide rapid virus testing.

Large-scale polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing will be carried out in the event of a cluster in an entertainment district.

The risk of infection increases in the winter because people tend to keep the windows closed, so restaurants and other businesses will be asked to monitor their humidity level and keep their premises well ventilated.

The government recommends a humidity level of at least 40 per cent.

Information on measures to reduce the risk of infection will also be posted on social media to reach more young people. To prepare for the increase in foreign visitors entering Japan, the number of positive cases in quarantine will be announced and shared with local governments.

Mr Suga met with Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Tuesday. Mr Suzuki called for public health nurses to be dispatched in the event that the virus spreads further, to which the prime minister responded: "We will work closely together to deal with the situation."

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