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These venues made Japan pay the price before Covid-19



Japan focuses on identifying infectious clusters and isolating sources of infection to fight viruses, but bars and nightclubs in Tokyo undermine this strategy.

The strategy of identifying epidemics, tracing contact with F0 as well as detecting and quarantining exposed people has helped Japan to be somewhat successful in controlling Covid-19 in the first phase.
However, by mid-March, epidemiological investigators in the Japanese infection control team discovered that there were cases where they could not find the source. This is the time when translation clusters begin to appear in bars and nightclubs in Tokyo, where regular guests are corporate executives or salaried office workers.

The problem with epidemiological investigators when tracking cases at these sites is that bar and nightclub operators and staff are bound to say nothing about their customers.

"These nightlife venues are filled with wealthy, wealthy customers," said Takeaki Imamura, a professor at Tohoku University, a member of the Japanese infection control team. "The employees there are obliged to protect the customers, so they provide no information. They never reveal who went to the shop or the customers who went with them. To determine what happened really. hard".
These spots reflect the dark side of Tokyo, where men are willing to spend a lot of money to sit down and drink with hostesses, or the service is ready to indulge them "to the dock".

Such bars and clubs have also become a weak link in Japan's attempt to control Covid-19, while presenting a challenge to a government that is reluctant to impose blockades to contain the virus. how to minimize the damage caused by nCoV to the economy.
Japan initially faced difficulties before the nCoV due to the lack of testing capacity and the fact that private companies and laboratories were not allowed to participate in the screening process for infected people.

Therefore, the Covid-19 control team led by Professor Hitoshi Oshitani from Tohoku University bet on an approach to localizing each cluster of infection. This strategy is based on a study showing that the majority of people infected with nCoV are not contagious to those around them. Instead, only a minority group acts as the "super-infectious source" that spreads the virus in confined, crowded spaces.

The above strategy seems successful at first. Running against time to localize the epidemic cluster, the control team successfully blocked the first wave of infection from China and the Diamond Princess yacht in February with only minimal social disturbance.
But then, this method began to reveal weaknesses as a new wave of infection struck Japan from Europe and the US before more stringent travel restrictions were introduced.

In the middle of last month, engulfed in a sense of artificial safety due to low numbers of cases combined with a desire to quickly restore normal life, the Japanese government proposed reopening schools in less affected areas. enjoy.

On March 21, Japan begins a three-day weekend to welcome spring. The sun is shining brightly, cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and Tokyoites flock to flower viewing parks or gather at restaurants and bars to relax.
While much of the world is cordoned off, the sight of the crowds crowds watching cherry blossoms at Japanese parks probably makes many people distrust their eyes. Not long after, Japan had to pay the price.

New clusters of infections have emerged, at a bar gathering more than 300 students in the city of Sendai, northeastern Japan, at a nightclub in Shibuya district, Tokyo and many restaurants and bars elsewhere.
On March 28, Hiroshi Nishiura, Oshitani's colleague, urged the Tokyo government to take more drastic action. Two days later, Governor Yuriko Koike asked people to limit access to karaoke rooms, concert venues, bars, and nightclubs.
"We apologize for this inconvenient request," Nishiura said at a news conference, explaining that 30% of new infections come from nocturnal venues. "A lot of infected people don't share enough details."
The epidemic cluster approach becomes overwhelmed as the virus spreads rapidly in Tokyo and the number of untraceable infections soars. In fact, Japan needs to change its strategy and the government needs to quickly strengthen its testing capacity.
"This is an obvious problem," Oshitani told NHK. "The testing centers are not set up fast and effective. I believe this leads to the current situation."
According to Oshitani, Japan "is on the brink of disaster", facing the risk of collapse of the health system.
Even so, the nightlife in Tokyo continues. Exceptionism has taken root in Japan. People believe that the number of infections is low because people are still wearing masks, rarely shaking hands, and not wearing shoes at home.
Meanwhile, the government and bureaucracy refused to admit that the original anti-epidemic strategy had failed.
"Traditionally and historically, Japan is not good at changing strategies," said Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease expert at Kobe University. "When we start a strategy and we have to move to plan B, we often perform very poorly or don't even think about plan B, because plan B is the acknowledgment of plan A's failure."
"A lot of people who are responsible for disease control, especially officials, really don't like to talk about failure," he stressed
Not long after, the Japan Medical Association warned that the medical system was on the verge of collapse. The Intensive Care Medicine Association warns of a serious shortage of intensive care beds and nurses.

On April 7, the government began to take action. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long emergency in 7 of Japan's 47 provinces. On April 16, he expanded the state of emergency to the whole country.
But the measures given are not synchronized. Nightclubs are required to close, while bars and restaurants are still allowed to operate until 8pm.

Not everyone can learn a lesson. On April 9, opposition lawmaker Takashi Takai went to an erotic bar in Kabuchiko district of Tokyo. Being exposed by the media, he resigned.
By now, the number of people using the metro system has decreased by 60-70%. The number of people going to crowded venues also decreased with the corresponding level. However, the government's goal of reducing social interaction by 80% does not seem to be achieved.

The number of new cases per day is no longer fluctuating but not falling sharply as expected and growing anxiety that the government will not be able to remove the emergency on May 6 as expected.
Last week, Prime Minister Abe also asked the Japanese people to "reconsider their behavior".


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