Lessons from two Covid-19 outbreaks in Hokkaido

Lessons from two Covid-19 outbreaks in Hokkaido 3

Lessons from two Covid-19 outbreaks in Hokkaido

At the end of February, Hokkaido became the first place in Japan to declare a state of emergency due to Covid-19.

This policy was effective and by mid-March, the number of new infections in Hokkaido dropped to only 1-2 cases/day.

However, 26 days after the end of the above state of emergency, a new emergency order was imposed.

A young man walks through a deserted Tokyo street on April 16.

Last week, Hokkaido recorded 135 new cases of nCoV infection.

Professor Kenji Shibuya, Imperial College London, said that through the handling of the epidemic in Hokkaido, it can be seen that if the epidemic peaks early, everything will be under control.

`Suppressing outbreaks, tracing and isolating is relatively easy,` he said.

In this, Hokkaido bears similarities to the city of Daegu, South Korea, where an outbreak from a cult was traced vigorously.

However, the second lesson from Hokkaido is different.

Now more than 3 months after recording the first case of infection, Japan is still only testing a very small portion of the population.

The Japanese Ministry of Health is concerned that hospitals will be overloaded with people who are positive for nCoV but only have mild symptoms.

Meanwhile, some local medical centers do not have enough human resources or equipment to conduct mass testing.

The combination of the above reasons has made Japanese officials unable to clearly understand how nCoV was transmitted among people, Professor Shibuya said.

Lessons from two Covid-19 outbreaks in Hokkaido

Passengers stand near a notice board at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station, Hokkaido, on April 8, asking visitors to the island to self-isolate for two weeks.

`We are in the middle of an epidemic outbreak,` he said.

The third lesson is that the `new reality` will last much longer than most people predict.

Professor Shibuya said that without adopting tougher measures, Japan has little hope of controlling the ongoing `second wave` of Covid-19 not only in Hokkaido but nationwide.

The `key lesson` he said is that `even if you succeed in controlling the epidemic locally, the infection will continue in other provinces of the country, and as long as people travel,

Hokkaido’s economy is being hit hard.

A bar owner in Chitose city had to close and lay off staff.

`Every night there are 1-2 people,` he said.

The newly announced state of emergency is expected to end on May 6, the end of the `Golden Week` holiday.

`We feel we have to maintain this. The goal is to minimize contact between people to prevent the virus from spreading,` he said.

When asked how long the above measures would last, he replied: `Until we find a vaccine, we must continue to try to prevent the epidemic from spreading.`

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