Successful loose restrictions in Japan and consideration of COVID-19 measures
The Japanese are well-known for upholding virtues, such as humility, modesty, and self-improvement, and observing the culture of Bushido. Therefore, several local opinions lean toward the belief that the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) measures are insufficient, to which I disagree. I believe that the Japanese loose measures are nearly perfect from a global point of view.
The majority of forecasts and considerations I provided in this column since last year have proved accurate. For example, I opined that the media offers more harm than benefit, as it tends to arouse excessive anxiety among people, which renders them less capable of confronting difficulties. Indeed, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has supported this view.
My perspective is that the success of COVID-19 measures in Japan can be attributed to the integration of three conditions.
The first is that the insurance medical system has been established and supplied to all citizens, such that extensive support during the health crisis was possible. The insurance also covers vaccination from infants to the elderly and advanced medical equipment and remedies.
Healthcare knowledge in the country is optimized. A high level of education leads to the understanding of the concept of viral infection, thus realizing the need for masks to prevent the spread of the virus via oral droplets.
The second is that Japan adheres to high standards of cleanliness. As such, sustaining forward-looking measures for epidemic control is considered a tradition. Urban designs for sewerage and extermination of pests, such as rats and mosquitoes, are constantly maintained. The Japanese practice cleanliness and personal hygiene, such as taking off shoes upon entering a room, showering on a daily basis, and handwashing and gargling upon arriving home, as habits even before the pandemic. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the key to the comprehensive power of health.
The third constitutes my personal opinion. The Japanese can benefit from acquired immunity through exposure to seasonal coronaviruses and effective implementation of pediatric vaccines and pneumococcal vaccines for the elderly through public assistance.
Based on the experience of India, lockdown measures and strong national control through police power are unsuitable solutions. Moreover, isolation policies were unable to prevent clusters of mutant viruses in Australia.
Facts deduced from these experiences and the characteristics of the new coronavirus can be summarized into three points.
1. Mankind cannot completely contain the sporadic spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
2. Damage due to COVID-19 is dependent on the medical system of a country in terms of maintenance and awareness of the status of its national healthcare system.
3. Acquired immunity formed by seasonal coronaviruses and vaccines affects.
Acquiring herd immunity while minimizing damage is a better strategy than implementing containment with loose measures. Scholars predict that SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will accelerate herd immunity.
Lastly, the Japanese concept of hygiene and long-term maintenance of its medical system warrant evaluation at the international level.
1．ロックダウンの中国都市 物不足で噴出した抗議の声、日本経済新聞 2021年1月28日
2．コロナ感染再拡大で中国が対策強化－喉と口、肛門から検体採取し検査、Bloomberg News 2021年1月27日
3．ドイツがロックダウン強化 15キロ以上の移動制限も 朝日新聞 2021年1月6日
5．フランス、全土で夜間外出制限を強化 午後6時までに帰宅 BBCニュース1月15日
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11．豪、1週間新たな市中感染ゼロ NZからの入国は再度規制 ロイター1月25日
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15．外出禁止、除外者に警官暴行 頻発、生活必需品供給に支障―インド 時事ドットコム 2020年3月26日
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