Novel Coronavirus: is it safe to view cherry blossoms in Japan and attend Tokyo Olympics?

Since novel coronavirus—COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei, China in January, 2020, dozens of countries have reported infected cases, including Japan. 739 people have been tested positive for the COVID-19, 646 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship as of February 21. Cherry blossom viewing period is approaching and many overseas tourists have longed to see the once-a-year flowers. So is it safe to travel in Japan when there have been so many infected cases?

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The major symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, difficulty of breath. Please NOTE that the symptoms of the pneumonia may appear from within 2 days or as long as 14 days.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  1. COVID-19 is believed to spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced by an infected person’s coughs or sneezes when they are in close contact (6 feet or 1.8 m).

  2. People may also get infected by touching some surfaces or objects that has the virus on them, and then touching their mouths, noses and eyes. However, it is not the main spreading way.

How to prevent from being infected with COVID-19?

  1. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap for at least 15 seconds. Bring a gel sanitizer or an alcohol-based hand wipe if it is not convenient to wash hands with water.

  2. Always put on facial mask whenever you are in the crowd. Masks and sanitizers can be found at convenient stores and drug stores in Japan.

  3. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unclean hands.

  4. When you have to sneeze, cough or blow your nose, covering your mouth and nose with disposable tissues or elbow.

  5. Stay away from people who has a fever or a cough.

What could you do if you are feeling unwell in Japan?

  1. Medical expenses can be high if you are sick or get injured in Japan without insurance. We highly recommend you buy travel insurance before visiting Japan.

  2. Call 050-3816-2787 in Japan—the number of Japan National Tourism Organization hotline in case of emergencies. The support is available in multiple languages.

  3. Visit Japan National Tourism Organization to get information about medical institutions, symptoms and treatment and travel insurance.

  4. Look up the updates about COVID-19 news and information on NHK World News and WHO.

Will cherry blossom viewing activists and Olympic Games be cancelled?

Japan has cancelled or suspended some gatherings. However, cherry blossom viewing, festivals and illuminations will be staged as planned, and no cancellation announcement has been issued. As to 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Japanese authorities have reiterated that it will be held on time—from July 24 to Aug 9 in 2020.