A cold, hay fever or COVID-19? Japan's health guidelines raise questions
Japan Times -- Feb 21
With hay fever season ramping up and the flu still thriving, the spread of the novel coronavirus poses a challenge for medical institutions nationwide, which face the prospect of being flooded with patients who believe they have COVID-19.

Despite the government’s efforts to calm nerves, experts have raised questions about whether asking the public to observe their symptoms closely before seeking a consultation will actually prevent a rush on clinics and allow those with serious conditions to be treated in a timely manner.

On Monday, the health ministry issued guidelines for people who fear they have been infected with COVID-19, urging them to stay home if they have symptoms. If symptoms become serious, they are advised to call a special consultation center set up by the government.

As of noon Thursday, the total number of cases detected in Japan had exceeded 700, including those from a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama port since Feb. 5.

Eiji Kusumi, director of Tokyo-based Navitas clinic, believes that such requests to the public may be not be effective in separating coronavirus patients with mild symptoms from those suffering from other conditions. Kusumi also said the move may not prevent the spread of the virus.

“It’s impossible to tell the difference between a coronavirus infection and a cold just based on symptoms,” given that complications linked to COVID-19 are identical to those found with other viral infections such as the common cold and pneumonia, Kusumi said Thursday.

In its set of guidelines, the health ministry advised that people seek a consultation if they have a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius or above for four days or more, experience difficulty breathing or feel severe drowsiness. Medical staff at the center will then advise which hospitals a caller should visit for treatment.

In confirmed COVID-19 cases, some patients only have mild symptoms, while others develop serious conditions such as pneumonia, which can lead to death.

News source: Japan Times
Apr 05
Double-income families raising children in Tokyo are under growing pressure to cope now that Japan's school closure request is expected to be extended due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak. (Nikkei)
Apr 05
As governments introduce social distancing rules of varying strictness to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of how long these measures should remain in place will likely spark vigorous debate. (Japan Times)
Apr 04
A proof by Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki of an over 30-year-old problem in number theory has obtained validation, Kyoto University said Friday following controversy over his theory often labeled as too novel and complicated to understand. (Kyodo)
Apr 02
Education authorities in Tokyo have decided to keep metropolitan senior high schools closed through early May due to the spread of the new coronavirus. (NHK)
Apr 01
Over a career in Japan spanning 21 years, Osaka-based English language teacher Steven Thompson has taken 10 days of paid sick leave across two occasions when he caught the flu. (Japan Times)
Mar 31
Two persons from Sendai City have been confirmed with the novel coronavirus after meeting with two Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) who also tested positive, reports Kahoku Shimpo (Mar. 30). (tokyoreporter.com)
Mar 31
Japan’s approach to halting the coronavirus pandemic might seem to other nations around the world like it is very social, and not so distant. (Japan Times)
Mar 29
What’s happening in Japan is written all over our faces — our blank, expressionless, masked faces. Never before, it seems safe to say, have so many people gone about masked. (Japan Times)
Mar 29
Non-Japanese speakers who want advice on the new coronavirus can call hotlines run by the Japan Tourism Agency and some local governments. (NHK)
Mar 29
In Japan, college is seen as not only of higher education, but also high fashion. That’s because your four years at university are pretty much your only respite from the uniforms and haircut regulations of middle/high school and the conservative dress codes of most (though not all) Japanese offices. (soranews24.com)