Coronavirus News Asia

Japan forced to change its Covid-19 strategy


This coronavirus is catastrophically contagious. Now Japan is beginning to learn that if only because its initial strategy of tracing worked so well – until it did not.

So what is tracing? Remember Dr. Anthony Fauci’s words: “You’ve got to test, trace and isolate.”

Once a patient is identified, public health workers must trace his path for the previous two weeks to identify all those with whom he may have had close encounters.

Workplace, restaurants, taxis, home must be scrutinized for possible source of infection and for others similarly infected. When Japan’s case #1 was discovered on January 16, case workers identified and tested 38 other individuals.

For every new case found in January and February, about ten close encounter cases were traced and tested. New cases were usually fewer than a dozen a day and traceable to known cases.

This strategy of tracing and testing began to leak in March, as had been expected by some of the infectious disease caseworkers.

First, cases that could not be traced to known clusters began to outnumber those that could be traced. Community spread had begun. Some prefecture-level governments took a page from South Korea and began drive-thru Covid-19 testing.

After much cajoling, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finally declared a state of emergency on April 7 and a partial shutdown was ordered in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities. There were 3,906 known cases in Japan on that date, after a total of 55,311 tests.


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