Contact-tracing and peer pressure: how Japan has controlled coronavirus | Tomoya Saito
Painstaking tracking of Covid-19 patients has kept deaths low in my country – but social etiquette has played its part too
- Dr Tomoya Saito is director of the Department of Health Crisis Management at Japan’s National Institute of Public Health
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It is safe to say that the measures taken by Japan during the Covid-19 pandemic have so far delivered relative success. At the time of writing, we have seen 903 deaths, which makes the mortality rate 0.72 per 100,000 people. This is one-eightieth that of the UK (60.14) and is lower than any other G7 country.
Thanks to the fact that the rate of new patients is also low and steady, Japan lifted its state of emergency on 25 May. There has been a lot of trial and error (take the Diamond Princess cruise ship case, for example, over which Japan was exposed to much criticism). Yet since what we consider to be the first wave was dealt with without any lockdowns or curfews, we are often asked for the secrets of our initial success.