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Updated on June 30, 2021

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)(Last updated June 28, 2021)

What is the coronavirus disease?

Q.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A.Common symptoms include fever, coughs and other respiratory symptoms and a strong feeling of weariness (fatigue).
Other symptoms may be headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, or loss of taste or smell.

Prevention

Q.How does the disease spread?

A.Two ways: you can get the virus from touching a surface or object the virus is on and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning your hands first (contact infection), or if you inhale respiratory droplets emitted from an infected person (droplet infection). If you converse at a close distance in a closed space with poor ventilation, the virus can be transmitted from a person who presents no respiratory symptoms.

Q.What can I do to prevent the spread of disease?

A.When you are outside, do not gather closely in line, etc. and keep a distance of about 2 m from other people.
Also please avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places with many people nearby, and close-contact settings such as close-range conversations (the three Cs).
As standard hygiene measures, we ask you to observe cough etiquette (*) and hand washing. It is also important to have adequate nutrition and rest.
At the moment, we do not have a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so avoid unnecessary contact with a person with fever or a cough. If you have contact with such a person, wash your hands carefully.

*What is the “cough etiquette”? (Japanese)(External link)

Q.How long is the incubation period? And is it possible to spread the disease during the incubation period?

A.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incubation period is thought to be between 1 and 14 days (typically around 5). Based on current information, it is recommended to observe the health of people who suspect they may be infected for 14 days.
(English)(External link)
(Chinese)(External link)

In general, it is highly likely that the virus causing pneumonia is transmitted to others when the symptoms appear most strongly. However, experts indicate and research results have revealed that COVID-19 can also spread before symptoms appear. In particular it has become apparent that young people spread the virus while they have no or only mild symptoms. Therefore, even if you do not have any symptoms, please make sure to take standard measures against the virus and health care measures.
(English)(External link)

Q.What methods of disinfection are effective?

A.It is known that alcohol disinfectants (at a 70% solution) are effective for disinfecting the skin on your hands or other areas, while sodium hypochlorite (0.1%) more commonly known as bleach, is effective for disinfecting surfaces. If you are concerned the virus is on your clothes, disinfection using hot water (80°C for 10 minutes) is also effective.
For details, please refer to the guidance posted in the website page of the National Institute of Infectious Disease: Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
(Japanese)(External link)
(English)(External link)

Q.Will wearing a mask stop me from getting infected?

A.Masks are effective at stopping the spread of droplets containing pathogens, which are released when people cough or sneeze, so they are usually used by people who have a cough or sneeze.
However, wearing a mask in a crowded place is recommended to stop the transmission of COVID-19 because the novel coronavirus can be transmitted from a person who has no or only mild symptoms.

Q.Is it possible for the virus to be present on imported goods?

A.Currently, there is no epidemiological evidence that suggests that people can be infected with COVID-19 through contact with items sent from abroad, or from other locations where the virus has been found. It is thought that the virus cannot generally survive for a long time on items such as letters or luggage.

Treatment/medical examination

Q.I have a cough/fever and am worried I have been infected with COVID-19. What should I do?

A.If you have a primary doctor, what you should do first is to consult with your doctor.
If you do not have a primary doctor, or are uncertain about where to go for more information, please consult with the Tokyo Fever Consultation Center for people with potential exposure to COVID-19.

Tokyo Fever Consultation Center for people with potential exposure to COVID-19 (Japanese)

Q.What does it mean to have been in “close contact” with an infected person?

A.Between two days before the patient presents symptoms and the start of quarantine, if you

  • have lived together or spent long periods of contact (including in a vehicle or airplane) with the patient;
  • have examined, given care to, or nursed a patient, without taking adequate disease prevention measures;
  • are likely to have touched something that has been contaminated by viral particles present in the coughs, sneezes or bodily fluids of the patient;
  • have been in contact with a patient for more than 15 minutes within a distance of 1 meter without necessary preventive measures,

you are considered as having been in close contact.
However, even though a person may have been in close contact with an infected person for 15 minutes, the possibility of infection greatly varies depending on the three Cs status, such as whether the person wore a mask or not, whether the person engaged in vocal activities, such as conversation or singing, or whether the contact was face to face. Therefore, whether you have been in close contact with infected persons will be determined by the health center after they ask about your specific conditions.

(Reference) Guidelines for Active Epidemiological Investigation in Patients with Novel Coronavirus Infection (May 29, 2020), Infectious Disease Epidemiology Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases
https://www.niid.go.jp/niid/images/epi/corona/2019nCoV-02-200529.pdf (Japanese)(External link)

Q.I have neither been in close contact with infected persons nor had symptoms, but I am worried and would like to consult a specialist. What should I do?

A.If you have no symptoms, please consult with the Novel Coronavirus Call Center.
They will give you general advice about the novel coronavirus, such as infection prevention, and what to do if you have suspicious symptoms. (Consultation is available in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean)

Novel Coronavirus Call Center (Japanese)

Q.If the test for the coronavirus disease is covered by health insurance, will testing be available at any medical facility?

A.The test covered by health insurance can be implemented at medical facilities that meet certain requirements stipulated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. This is in order to prevent the further spread of disease within medical facilities.
If you have symptoms, such as fever, and want to be tested, first please consult with your primary doctor. If you do not have a primary doctor, or are uncertain about where to go for more information, please consult with the Tokyo Fever Consultation Center for people with potential exposure to COVID-19. If the consultation confirms that you may have been infected, the center will direct you to a medical facility that implements testing.

Tokyo Fever Consultation Center for people with potential exposure to COVID-19 (Japanese)

Q.What kind of treatment can COVID-19 patients receive?

A.COVID-19 patients are hospitalized at designated medical facilities that are equipped to treat infectious diseases. The copayment portion of patients’ medical fees will be paid from public funds. (Individuals with a household income below a certain level will have all their medical fees paid from public funds.)
There are currently no antiviral drugs that are known to be effective against the coronavirus disease, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms.
Infected people who do not need to be hospitalized for treatment or have no or only mild symptoms are requested to stay in a facility arranged by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government so that they do not transmit the virus to their families and friends and have prompt access to appropriate treatment in case their conditions take a sudden turn for the worse.

Q.If I think someone in my family has been infected, what steps should I follow?

A.The person who may be infected should avoid leaving the house. Family members or fellow residents should monitor their health, for example by measuring their temperature, and avoid leaving the house unless absolutely necessary. Please do not go to work or school if you feel ill, especially if you develop symptoms such as a cough or fever. Please follow these eight points:

  1. Stay in different rooms.
  2. Limit the number of people who look after or interact with the person who may be infected as much as possible.
  3. Wear a mask.
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
  5. Keep rooms well ventilated.
  6. Disinfect shared spaces and objects that you touch with your hands.
  7. Wash clothes and bedding appropriately.
  8. Dispose of rubbish bags after sealing them tight.

(Reference) Website of Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control (Japanese)(External link)

Medical Care / Examination / Treatment

Other Q&A

Q: What are the residual symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

A: Even after recovering from COVID-19 infection, some continue to have long-term symptoms such as coughing, loss of taste and the sense of smell, difficulty breathing, and fatigue.
For example, the results of a study showed that nearly half of patients still have some symptoms two months after the onset of the disease, and almost 30% still have symptoms after four months.
In the same study, 24% of patients also experienced hair loss from about 30 days after onset.

Q: Are residual symptoms more common in the elderly?

A: Over 80% of people in their 60’s and 70’s suffer from residual symptoms, but so does a high percentage of those in their 20’s and 30’s according to some studies, so it is possible to suffer from symptoms regardless of age.

Q: Is the cause of residual symptoms known?

A: While they are thought to be due to excessive inflammation caused by the virus (cytokine storm), damage caused by the active virus itself, and the immune response from insufficient antibodies, it is still unclear.

Reference: COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)  Sequelae Leaflet(Japanese)
Reference: Materials from (31st) Tokyo COVID-19 Infection Monitoring Conference (February 4, 2021) “07 COVID-19 Infection: Research Utilizing Registries, Epidemiological Study of Residual Symptoms” (Japanese)
Reference: “For Those Leaving (Accommodation Medical Treatment)” (Japanese)(PDF:329KB)

Reference

※This article is also available in other languages. (日本語English中文한국어)

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