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March 23, 2020

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (current as of 11 March 2020)

About coronavirus symptoms

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: Common symptoms include respiratory symptoms, fever and a cough.

Prevention

Q: How does the disease spread?

A: The means of transmission are currently being investigated. Infection is thought to occur through touching something that has been contaminated, and then touching your mouth or nose. Another way is for droplets containing the virus, which are produced when a person with the disease coughs or sneezes, to come into contact with your mouth, nose or eyes.

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

A: Please practice good general hygiene by observing cough etiquette and washing your hands often. It is also effective to get plenty to rest, have good nutrition, and avoid crowds. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, so please avoid unnecessary contact with people that have symptoms such as a cough or fever. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching things.

For information about cough etiquette, please refer to:
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html (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 12.5 days (typically around 5 to 6). Based on current information, it is recommended to observe the health of potentially infected people for 14 days.
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses (External link)

People are generally thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). While the probability of developing severe symptoms such as pneumonia is low, there are still many things that are not well understood about COVID-19, so please take standard disease prevention measures and protect your health.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html (External link)

Q: What methods of disinfection are effective?

A: It is known that alcohol disinfectants (70%) are effective for disinfecting the skin on your hands or other areas, while sodium hypochlorite (0.1%) is effective for disinfecting surfaces. If you are concerned the virus is on your clothes, disinfection using hot water (80℃ for 10 minutes) is also effective.

Q: Can I avoid getting infected by wearing a mask?

A: Masks are effective at stopping the spread of droplets containing pathogens, which are released when people cough or sneeze, so they are best used by people who have a cough or sneeze.
If you are concerned about preventing infection, please start by practicing good general hygiene, including practicing cough etiquette and washing your hands often.

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

A: Currently, there is no epidemiological information that suggests that people can be infected with COVID-19 through contact with items sent from China, 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

[If you do have a travel history to areas affected by the virus, or have been in contact with infected people who do:]
[If you have had cold-like symptoms or a fever higher than 37.5°for four continuous days, and are experiencing severe tiredness and shortness of breath:]

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

A: Please contact the COVID-19 Call Center at 0570-550-571.
It is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (including weekends and public holidays).

If you suspect that you have been infected with COVID-19, you may be referred to an outpatient facility equipped to deal with COVID-19. Please go for a medical examination, making sure you wear a mask and avoid using public transport on the way there.

As of 11 March 2020, the following areas are known to be affected:

People’s Republic of China Hubei and Zhejiang Provinces
Republic of Korea Daegu Metropolitan City, Gyeongsangbuk-do (Cheongdo-gun, Gyeongsan city, Andong city, Yeongcheon city, Chilgok-gun, Uiseong-gun, Seongju-gun, Gunwi-gun, Bonghwa-gun)
Islamic Republic of Iran Gilan, Qom, Tehran, Alborz, Isfahan, Qazvin, Golestan, Semnan, Mazandaran, Markazi and Lorestan Provinces
Italian Republic Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Marche and Lombardy Provinces
Republic of San Marino All regions

 

[If you do not have a travel history to areas affected by the virus, and have not been in contact with infected people who do:]

Q: If I experience symptoms such as a fever or cough, where should I go?

A: There are no specifically designated medical facilities for people who have not traveled from the affected areas listed above. If you experience symptoms, please wear a mask and go for a medical examination. At present, the vast majority of illnesses are caused by diseases other than COVID-19. If you are worried you may have influenza or other diseases, please see a family doctor as you normally would.

If you are not experiencing any illness, but would like to discuss concerns you have about COVID-19, please contact the COVID-19 Call Center at 0570-550-571.
It is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (including weekends and public holidays).

The call center handles inquiries regarding prevention methods, what to do if you develop worrying symptoms, and other questions concerning COVID-19. Support is offered in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

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

A: A person is generally considered to have been in close contact if they touch or stand face-to-face within speaking distance (i.e. around two meters) of someone without taking the necessary precautionary measures. Therefore passing someone on the street is not grounds for considering the possibility of infection.

Under national reporting standards, the following are considered cases of having been in close contact:

  • Having spent long periods of contact (including in a vehicle or airplane) or lived together with someone suspected of being infected with COVID-19
  • Having examined, given care to, or nursed a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19, 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 someone suspected of being infected with COVID-19

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 COVID-19 is conducted in national and metropolitan facilities for cases which have met the conditions set by the national government. It cannot be conducted at regular medical facilities in the way one might receive a test 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.

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.

Q: If the test for the coronavirus disease becomes covered by health insurance, will testing become available at every medical facility?

A: Even if the test becomes covered by health insurance, it is anticipated that it will be administered at specialist outpatient facilities which are equipped to deal with COVID-19 patients.
This is in order to prevent the further spread of disease within medical facilities, and for quality assurance within the testing process.

For these reasons, the test would not immediately be available at all medical facilities even if it were covered by health insurance.

Q: What kind of treatment can COVID-19 patients receive, and where?

A: When necessary to prevent the spread of disease, COVID-19 patients are hospitalized at designated medical facilities that are equipped to treat infectious diseases, in accordance with health centers’ directions.
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.

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 necessary. Please do not go to work or school if you fall 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 shutting them tight

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