Hong Kong and Tokyo airports are handling coronavirus very differently. Which one has it right?

Upon arrival at Hong Kong Worldwide Airport on Sunday, after disembarking instantly onto the tarmac we have been taken to a quarantine space on the decrease degree of the airport.

There we underwent a number of well being and safety checks. My temperature was taken, I crammed out an in depth questionnaire indicating I had not traveled to China, Italy, South Korea, or different coronavirus hotspots.

Two quarantine officers gave me a guidelines of directions for after I left the airport, together with that I take my temperature twice each day and instantly report any irregular signs to the Division of Well being.

If I used to be to land in Hong Kong at present, it could be even stricter.

The native authorities introduced this week that anybody arriving from a overseas nation is required to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, and can probably be issued an digital monitoring bracelet that may alert the authorities in the event that they depart their house or resort.

Quarantine officers interview Will Ripley on arrival at  Hong Kong International Airport on March 15.

To this point, Hong Kong’s intense measures seem like containing the unfold of the virus.

Regardless of Hong Kong sharing a border with mainland China, the variety of instances within the densely populated metropolis stays at 167 — though town has seen a spike in instances this week, mostly imported by international travelers arriving from international locations struggling to cope with the virus.

Past the airport, it is laborious to identify somebody in Hong Kong not carrying a masks. Town clearly discovered painful classes from the SARS outbreak of 2003, when some 300 Hong Kong residents died.

The health-monitoring checklist issued by Hong Kong Quarantine officers on Sunday March 15, advising to do a  temperature twice daily and report any symptoms to the Department of Health.

Hong Kong acted early closing colleges, public libraries and museums, and urging folks to earn a living from home, manner again in February when it had comparatively few instances. Whereas the federal government did not go as far as to shut bars and eating places, when the virus arrived in Hong Kong many individuals took it upon themselves to remain house and keep away from crowds.

No person is taking any probabilities. In Tokyo it’s totally totally different.

Japan distinction

After I arrived at Narita airport in Japan this week our airplane pulled as much as the gate as common.

I walked freely via the airport, greater than 500 meters to the quarantine workplace the place about 10 quarantine officers rapidly tried to course of everyone who got here from my flight.

No person took my temperature, though I did stroll previous a thermal digicam scanning for elevated physique temperatures. However it was a chilly night and plenty of passengers have been bundled up in coats that might have hindered the digicam’s capability to get an correct studying.

My quarantine officer gave me kinds to sign up English requesting that I stay in my house for 14 days, test my temperature each day, and keep away from public transportation.

These have been merely requests, and aren’t being enforced. I’m following the steered protocol, however there’s nothing to cease me from going anyplace I please.

The document issued at Tokyo's Narita Airport on  March 17 requesting arrivals to avoid public transportation and monitor their symptoms for 14 days.

Different international locations have declared a state of emergency and gone into lockdown, however Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has mentioned the state of affairs in Japan doesn’t but warrant his use of emergency powers.

In Tokyo, whereas many faculties are closed, some massive gatherings are canceled, and an unprecedented variety of persons are working from house, most bars and eating places are open, plenty of persons are utilizing crowded public transport, and oldsters nonetheless take their youngsters exterior to play, normally with out masks. There’s loads of rest room paper on grocery store cabinets.

In explaining why Japan will not be on lockdown, Abe factors to Japan’s comparatively small variety of confirmed instances, in comparison with different international locations.

It is true the island nation of 125 million folks has 873 confirmed instances, in comparison with 31,506 in Italy, 16,169 in Iran and eight,413 in South Korea.

However there’s a key distinction between Japan and different nations with a skyrocketing an infection rely: Japan is testing a tiny fraction of individuals in comparison with many different international locations.

By March 17, Japan examined simply 14,525 folks, in keeping with the Ministry of Well being, though a few of these folks had been examined a number of instances. In contrast, South Korea — a rustic that has managed to stabilize an enormous outbreak — can check about 15,000 folks a day.

Japanese officers have mentioned the nation will ramp up its testing capability to eight,000 folks per day by the top of the month.

For an getting old society, a big and fast unfold of coronavirus may have a devastating affect.

Widespread testing is the one strategy to know for certain if the calm in Tokyo is a real image of the coronavirus state of affairs in Japan — or whether it is really the calm earlier than the storm.

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