Prime Minister Abe, please act now to protect Japan from the coronavirus!

Prime Minister Abe, please act now to protect Japan from the coronavirus!

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Dion Thorpe started this petition to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and

Dear Prime Minister Abe,

Please protect Japan by expanding testing for COVD-19, closing schools and non-essential businesses, and enforcing social distancing while the disease is spreading.

The coronavirus is now spreading throughout Japan.[1] So far we have been lucky, but the recent sudden increases in infections show that this will not last.

On 30th March, the President of the Japan Medical Association, Yoshitake Yokokura, said at a press conference that there are very few hospital beds remaining for infected patients[2]. If the number of infections continues to rise, hospitals across Japan will be full, and doctors will have to start choosing who gets treated and who does not. As in Italy, this could lead to many deaths.

We are told that there is a policy of “surveillance and containment” to limit the spread of infection, but the rate of testing seems too low for such a policy to work[3]. There are many stories of people with symptoms of COVID-19, including pneumonia, being turned away from hospitals[4,5,6]. They cannot get tested. They have to go home or go back to work.

Here is what we do know:

  • We are most likely to infect others when we have symptoms, such as a cough or fever. However, we can still spread the infection when we have no symptoms[7,8].
  • Research suggests we can have no symptoms for up to 24 days after getting the disease[9]. When we have no symptoms, we cannot know we are infected, and if we move about freely, we infect other people.
  • So far, more than 12,000 people have died in Italy alone[10]. Young, otherwise healthy people have died, and doctors have had to let some people die in order to care for others[11]. The same is now happening in other European countries and the United States[12,13].
  • Like Italians, Japanese people prefer meeting face-to-face, and will still go to work when they are sick.
  • Like Italy, Japan has an elderly and vulnerable population, and a low number of intensive care hospital beds compared to the size of the population.

So, we have a high risk of many deaths if the disease spreads quickly here, and when the hospitals are full, young and old people will both die.

Now, official advice tells us not to gather in large numbers, share confined spaces, or have conversations close to each other. At the same time, we still have to go to work, share buses and trains and offices, go to meetings, and serve customers. If we do not, we have to take holiday leave or lose money.

We cannot protect ourselves under these conditions. We need you to protect us.

Please act now to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect everyone in Japan, before it’s too late.

Test as many people as possible, close businesses and schools, ban public gatherings, order people to work from home where possible, and enforce “social distancing” so that the hospitals do not fill up with infected people.

The experiences of other countries show that the impact on Japan will be much smaller if you do this[14].

Thank you.

REFERENCES:
1: https://www.covid19japan.com
2: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200331/p2g/00m/0na/010000c
3: https://www.asahi.com/sp/ajw/articles/1322
4: https://www.japansubculture.com/in-japan-theres-no-visible-coronavirus-epidemic-because-the-government-wont-test-you-for-it
5: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200227/p2a/00m/0na/060000c
6: https://www.asahi.com/sp/ajw/articles/13188937
7: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html
8: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238437
9: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.06.20020974v1/
10: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html
11: https://www.newsweek.com/young-unafraid-coronavirus-pandemic-good-for-you-now-stop-killing-people-opinion-1491797
12: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/covid-19-workers-in-spain-you-can-feel-the-fear-in-the-air
13: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-young-people.html
14: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/world/coronavirus-flatten-the-curve-countries.html

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