COVID-19: Updates from Japan

With the unpredictability of the outbreak and increasing international cases, this is a serious situation that we are following closely. Many precautions are currently being taken at airports and other transport hubs in Japan. Since the SARS epidemic, Japan’s airports have been screening for sickness/temperature at all times, so this will not come as a surprise for any guests who have traveled through Japan in the past 15 years.

We want to be as transparent as possible throughout this challenging situation, so please check back on this page for updates. Depending on how the situation develops, we will also make adjustments to our tour plans for the safety of our guests, guides, and partners.

CURRENT SITUATION IN Japan – as of Mar 24, 12pm jst

In Japan, there have been 1089 confirmed cases and 15 deaths. Relative to its population of more than 125 million, the numbers affected and risk of transmission are still low.

Any numbers reporting significantly greater numbers, such as this article on the New York Times are not separating the cases from the Diamond Princess Ship which was quarantined in Yokohama Bay (705 cases). This is not meant to dismiss media reports, rather it should be noted that the lumping of this ship is causing an unclear view of the situation in mainland Japan.

Feb 27: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will request all elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan to close through early April amid concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

Mar 1: United Airlines has announced: “we are suspending some service to Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Singapore and Seoul, and we’ll stay in close contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations as we continue to evaluate our schedule.”

Mar 24: Regarding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, IOC Member Dick Pound has stated “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24”

The Japanese Government is currently denying entry or requiring self-isolation to any non-Japanese nationals who have been in regions of China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau, or San Marino in the two weeks preceding arrival to Japan. If you are traveling to Japan from or through one of these countries, please check with your airline or Japanese embassy to confirm the latest information on the specific requirements for these regions.

Below is NHK, one of Japan’s leading news organization full breakdown of the situation and locations of every known case in Japan in both Japanese (original), and a Google Translation to English. *Please note Google translation is just provided for ease of reading and not a 100% accurate translation of the contents. Please see this link for the official most up to date information from NHK News in Japan.

A cultural Note – mask wearing in japan & asia

In Japan (and much of Asia), face masks are often worn as a sign of courtesy. When an individual feels like they experiencing even a mild cold or seasonal allergies, they will wear a mask in public out of courtesy as to not sneeze on those around them. Some individuals with sensitive respiratory systems will also wear a mask to avoid smoke or poor air quality. What more, in places like Japan with cold dry winters many people choose to wear a face mask simply to help keep their airways humid.

This can be a little disconcerting for visitors from non-Asian countries where there is no culture of wearing masks. Just keep in mind that most masks in Japan are worn as a sign of courtesy, a seasonal precaution, or a fashion choice.

Current situation INTERNATIONALLY

Please explore this WHO page, where daily updates are reported on the Corona Virus.

As of Mar 23, the WHO situation report (#63) states that there have been 81,601 confirmed cases in China and 332,930 cases globally

Keep in mind that although these daily situation reports tend to lag behind some news headlines, figures have been verified by WHO. Also, please note that WHO has separated the numbers between the Diamond Cruise Ship and Japan’s country metrics.

Advice from GOVT Advisories

Advice from GOV.UK (updated Mar 13, 2020)

There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus in Japan, including instances of in-country transmission. It may cause more severe symptoms in older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. The Japanese authorities have introduced a number of measures to tackle the outbreak, including some restrictions on travellers seeking to enter Japan.The northern island of Hokkaido issued a ‘declaration of state of emergency’ on 28 February lasting until 19 March, asking residents to refrain from going out, particularly at weekends

Advice from CDC (updated Mar 13, 2020)

“Japan is experiencing sustained community spread of respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) coronavirus. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.”

“Sustained community spread of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported globally. Sustained community spread means that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they some of them became infected is not known, and virus transmission is ongoing. At this time there is evidence that COVID-19 is spreading in most regions and has been characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Illness from this virus has ranged from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. This new coronavirus has caused severe disease and death in patients who developed pneumonia. Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness.”

Advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (updated Mar 13, 2020)

Japan has recorded a number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. You’ll be denied entry to Japan if you’ve been to, or in, certain parts of China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or San Marino in the past 14 days. You’ll be required to spend 14 days in quarantine or self-isolation if you arrive in Japan from other parts of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau or South Korea. Contact your airline, tour operator or the nearest Japanese embassy to confirm latest information on entry requirements. Contact your airline, tour operator or the nearest Japanese embassy to confirm latest information on entry requirements.

Advice from the Govt of Canada (Mar 3, 2020)

Travel to Japan: Exercise a high degree of caution (with regional advisories).

Please consult the destination page for the latest travel advice.

Please keep in mind that the above government advice may change, so we will continue to keep abreast of the situation, and let our guests know as soon as we receive important updates. As circumstances are changing rapidly, we will do our best to stay flexible and and amend our terms as necessary.

Further REading

While news headlines do their job of alerting the public, we recommend keeping up with the situation from sources that are not motivated by clicks or views and that come from the source rather than through the lens of the distant media not present in the situation.

Johns Hopkins’ ArcGIS Global Case Map

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel advice

US State Department International Travel Advice

Australian Government Smart Traveller

Once again, thank you so much for your understanding, support, and patience during this challenging time. Our team will continue to keep this page updated as we receive new information from the above sources.

山川异域 风月同天 – Lands apart, shared sky