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Lessons from Japan on preventing COVID-19 through culture

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An Indian student in Japan explains why the country is relatively safe and bubbling with activity when the rest of the world is shutdown by COVID-19:

I AM continuously thinking why Japan has not erupted in COVID-19 casualties when she was the first country to be impacted by Corona from China because of the luxury ship, Diamond Princess from China in January. By now, it would have gone to stage four like European countries. When Japan was hit with the Virus, My parents asked me to come back to India for few months and go back once it settles.

But in Japan, everything is normal till today. We are going to offices daily, we are going to all essential services. No restaurants are closed. No malls are closed. No lockdown. Metro trains moving normally. Bullet trains are moving normally. All International borders are open. Also Japan has  high percentage of old people like Italy. Tokyo has highest number of foreigners living in it. Tokyo is one of the best tourist attractions with lots of foreigners. Foreigners are still allowed inside.

  Only services stopped, so are schools and public events. Am listening to all theories of breaking the chain.

  Lockdown kills the chain process for the dense country like India. Tokyo is the densest city in the world and how is it controlled?  We are leading just the normal life as usual. I am only scared when I  see updates and news from India.

  I analyzed it and probably it is because of the culture of Japanese people where the rules suggested to prevent Coronavirus were practiced by them from childhood.

1. Mask wearing culture

Japanese people wear masks when they travel or come out. Usually we see 60% wearing masks daily on normal days. Even if they catch very little cold; they wear masks. This was their culture which helped in stopping the spread and cuts the chain.

Normally any public-facing person like receptionist, govt officers, doctors, nurses, station masters, train staff, police, janitors, etc wear masks daily at work. During winter, we make children to wear mask daily so that they don’t bother others when they catch cold. At home, we have kodomo mask box and normal mask box. Kodomo mask is for children which fit them properly.

2. Personal Hygiene Culture

 Japanese people lead a life where they don’t bother others. They don’t litter anything. They use dustbins only to litter or spit. Cleanliness is part of their culture. They were taught how to be clean and public behaviour before learning alphabets in schools.

3. No Handshakes

They don’t do handshake but bow to greet.

4. Handwashing and Sanitising culture

Here, washing hands is a part of culture. We have soaps and sanitisers in public toilets, office entrances and usually in every public space. Using sanitisers is pretty common which prevented spread of virus. I never used the sanitisers but from past two months, am following the usage of sanitisers before entering office, using an elevator. The moment I see sanitiser, I try using it. 

5. Culture of Concern For Next Person in Use of Public Facility

In restrooms, I noticed that people wash their hands and also clean and wipe the sink area too to make it comfortable for the next person to use it. This is a usual practice in public metro stations too.

6. Regular Use of Hand Cleaners

They carry wet tissue packets to clean their hands occasionally when they go out.

7. Culture of  Social Distancing

They usually maintain social distance with all

This helped Japan to prevent lockdown. This needs a lot of forward thinking. These rules were part of Japanese culture which they practice with perfection.

Something to learn from Japan.

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