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February 6, 2020

Frequently asked questions about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

About the symptoms of the novel coronavirus

Q: What kind of symptoms are there?
A: Infected people are recognized to have symptoms including a fever and respiratory symptoms such as a cough.

Prevention

Q: How do you get infected?
A: The method of transmission is currently being investigated. It is thought that infection is possible through contact with something that has been contaminated, or by inhaling “respiratory spray” that contains the virus, produced by an infected person’s coughing or sneezing.

Q: How can I avoid getting infected?
A: Please practice good general hygiene by observing cough etiquette and washing your hands. It is also effective to get plenty to rest and nutrition, and to avoid crowds. There is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, so please avoid any unnecessary contact with people that have symptoms such as a cough or fever. Wash your hands thoroughly if you have touched things.

Q: Are there things to watch out for when putting on or taking off a facemask?
A: One everyday measure to prevent infection is to wear a face mask, which can be bought in drug stores and other shops. Please pay attention to the following points when you put on or take off a mask.

(Putting on a mask)

  • Ensure you have covered both your nose and mouth
  • Loop the strings over your ears
  • Adjust the mask so that there are no gaps around your nose and so your chin is not exposed.

(Taking off a mask)

  • Take the mask off touching only the strings, as the reverse side may be contaminated.
  • Replace your mask about once a day.

Treatment / medical examination

[If you have a travel history to Wuhan or other places in Hubei province, or have been in contact with infected people who do.]

Q: I have a cough and/or fever an am worried I have been infected with the novel coronavirus. What should I do?
A: Please contact your nearest health center for advice about finding a medical facility where you can be examined.

[If you do not have a travel history to Wuhan or other places in Hubei province, and have not been in contact with infected people who do.]

Q: I have travelled to somewhere in China other than Hubei province. If I experience a cough or fever, where should I go for medical treatment?
A: The novel coronavirus has currently only been confirmed to be prevalent in Hubei province, China. There are no designated facilities for people who have travelled to other areas, so please wear a mask and go for a medical examination.

Q: I have been in contact with someone I think was a Chinese tourist. Am I likely to have been infected?
A: Under national reporting standards, being in close contact with a person confirmed to be infected, or with someone who had visited or lived in an area where the disease is prevalent up to 14 days before symptoms developed, is considered grounds to consider the possibility of infection. However, simply coming in contact with someone who had come from China is not grounds to consider the possibility of infection.

A person is considered to have been in close contact if they:

  • Have spent long periods of contact (including in a vehicle or airplane) or lived together with someone suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus
  • Have examined, given care to or nursed a person suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus without adequate disease prevention measures
  • Are likely to have touched something that has been contaminated with the respiratory secretions or bodily fluids of someone suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus

Q: I have a cough and am worried that I have been infected, so I would like to be examined. What should I do?
A: The test for infection by the novel coronavirus is conducted in national and metropolitan facilities for cases that have met the conditions set by the national government. It cannot be conducted at regular medical facilities as it might be for influenza. Medical facilities will contact health centers about those who have met the conditions set by the government, and testing will be done in cases where health centers decide it is necessary. Please go for a consultation at a medical facility first of all.

Q: If my employer requests proof that I am not infected, what should I do?
A: The test for infection by the novel coronavirus is conducted in national and metropolitan facilities for cases that have met the conditions set by the national government. It cannot be conducted at regular medical facilities like it would be for influenza. If you have no special reason to believe you are infected, and are not showing symptoms, you cannot be tested just to prove that you are not infected.

About designated infectious diseases

Q: The novel coronavirus has been classified as a designated infectious disease. What measures will be taken?
A: When a physician diagnoses a case of the novel coronavirus, a report will be sent the health center. In order to prevent an epidemic, the health center may take measures to restrict the patient from going to work in certain industries or to request for their hospitalization in a designated medical facility for infectious diseases.

Q: What kind of treatment do patients receive at what kind of medical facility?
A: Patients infected with the novel coronavirus may be hospitalized at a medical facility equipped with the equipment to deal with infectious diseases under the orders of a health center if it is necessary to prevent an epidemic. The copayment portion of the patient’s medical fees will be paid from public funds. (Individuals with a household income below a set level will have all their medical fees paid from public funds.)
There are currently no antiviral drugs that are effective against the novel coronavirus, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms.

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