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How to protect yourself from Covid-19 coronavirus while in Tokyo and Japan

Don't panic – here's what you need to know about the global outbreak if you're in Tokyo

Kasey Furutani
Written by
Kasey Furutani

Covid-19 coronavirus has created a serious shift in our regular lives. Even though the nationwide state of emergency was lifted on May 25, and Japan is working to fully reopen the economy as early as August, many of us are still working from home and only venturing outside when necessary. 

Tokyo officially began reopening on May 25, starting with museums and libraries. The city moved to stage two of its reopening plan on June 1: gyms and movie theatres are opening their doors and events with a maximum of 100 people are now allowed – all with increased social distancing and safety measures. If you’re going outside, remember to wear a mask, maintain social distancing (staying two metres away from others) and frequently wash your hands. For more details, see our guide on how to go out safely in Tokyo

Here's some information on how to protect yourself from Covid-19 coronavirus and what to do if you're not feeling well. 

ALSO SEE: Live updates: the Covid-19 coronavirus situation in Tokyo and Japan right now

What is Covid-19?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Covid-19 is a subset of the coronavirus family, a range of illnesses including the common cold. Covid-19 causes symptoms such as fever, coughing and fatigue. About 80 percent of people who catch Covid-19 coronavirus recover from the disease without special medical treatment, however, if you’re feeling unwell, you should go to a doctor or hospital.

I’m in Japan and I’m not feeling well.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare says anyone experiencing a fever of at least 37.5 degrees Celsius for more than four days, cold symptoms, fatigue and/or shortness of breath should contact a Covid-19 consultation centre. This flowchart created by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government explains Covid-19 symptoms and provides guidelines on contacting the consultation centre. 

Call the Japan Visitor Hotline (inside Japan 050 3816 2787, from overseas +81 50 3816 2787) in case of illness or emergency. The hotline provides services in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. 

The Tokyo Coronavirus Support Center for Foreign Residents (0120 296 004) has provides information on the coronavirus in 14 different languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Indonesian, Tagalog, Thai, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Cambodian, Burmese, and Japanese.  

The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) also has an index of multilingual medical institutions and information on how to use them. 

Please see the JNTO website for multilingual support. 

For more information and sources, see here.


How can I protect myself?

The Guardian reports that, while the exact way Covid-19 spreads is still unknown, 'similar viruses tend to spread via cough and sneeze droplets'.

With that in mind, wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently and avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue to avoid spreading illness.

There are many ways to procure face masks, including purchasing online or making your own mask, even if you can’t sew. Bespectacled? Here’s how to wear a face mask without fogging up your glasses

How is this affecting Tokyo?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency nationwide on May 25. Tokyo, the prefecture with the highest number of cases, is beginning to reopen, but with increased safety measures. People should continue to wear masks, practise social distancing, telework and adopt a new lifestyle to avoid the spread of coronavirus. 

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is giving weekly video updates in English and urging residents to avoid the Three C’s: closed spaces, crowded places and conversations in close proximity. 


What about the Olympics?

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are officially postponed and will be held from July 23 to August 8 2021 and August 24 to September 5 2021 for the Paralympics. We will continue to update the situation here

Traditional festivals and other major summer events, including the Kyoto Gion Matsuri, Sumida River Fireworks and Aomori Nebuta Festival, have also been cancelled

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