As of March 7, the streets seem less crowded with tourists, a bunch of attractions are closed for a few weeks and schools closed early. And people on social networks are asking me if i am scared or worried to be here. I have been here since February 10 and plan at the moment to be until April 30.
So am I worried or concerned?
Well, I’m not worried about the virus or getting sick, my concern lies in my flight as countries start banning flights from and to heavily infected countries. If the numbers keep going up and then I will be in difficult spot if Canada imposes travel restrictions, which they have done with China already.
Will the numbers rise?
I think yes, but only because the Japanese government will most likely be testing more people and thus infections will be detected. Currently Japan has been relaxed about who they test, only requirements for testing are if you been to China recently. Currently Korea has about 6000 confirmed cases but carried out tens of thousand of tests, Japan so far only 8100 tests and just over 1000 confirmed cases. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
The citizens have been more proactive, pretty much all have been wearing masks. People wear masks when sick as curiosity for others in order not to make them sick. And everyone is wearing them, so much so that literally every store is sold out of masks. Although reports, including WHO, say that masks don’t offer protection. There is just something about the feeling of having an extra bit of security for when that person standing 5 feet away starts sneezing and coughing,
The beginning of mass hysteria?
The atmosphere here is that of calm and orderly. Except for the toilet paper fiasco, the other thing that has been completely sold out at stores. It all started 2 weeks ago when a fake post online somewhere circulated so much it triggered mass hysteria. The post falsely stated that there would be toilet paper shortage in Japan because the manufacturing plants in China are closed due to COVID-19. Although the toilet paper industry here in publicly announced that most of the paper sold in Japan is manufactured in the country. But that wasn’t enough to stop the rush. This hoarding didn’t stop at toilet paper, tampons and pads were effected. Personal cleansing wipes and tissue paper were also affected but not as a serious.
At the moment there are many tourist attractions closed. The closures began in February and were planned to re-open mid March. Such places include Disneyland, Fuji Q Highland, Tokyo Skytree, Ghibli Museum. Some department stores have shortened the hours to reduce traffic.
Schools closed at the beginning of March at the suggestion of the government. The closures were not mandatory but Japan is the type of culture that will listen and follow their leaders. An important note to consider, it was easy to close schools because they going to close in 2 weeks for holidays, so this wasn’t a major disruption.
So at the moment I watch and wait to decide whether to wait it out till the end or avoid possible headaches and just go back home.
Although I am kind of enjoying the streets with less tourists.