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How worried is Japan about Swine Flu? 2009/5/10 04:17
So a long story short I have a two week class trip planned for May 25 to go to my town's sister city Saroma, in Hokkaido. About one week ago my Japanese teacher (She is helping to coordinate the trip) was called by the principal of Saroma High School and he said he may want to postpone the trip because of Swine Flu.
This was very sad news for me. I have been looking forward to this trip for eight months, but I understand why they would want to postpone it.

My question is how worried about Swine Flu are the people of Japan at the moment?
I know that last week everyone across the globe was worried about a huge epidemic spreading, but now things have calmed down.

I appreciate any answers/responses!

by Madio  

well... 2009/5/10 15:16
Hey, Swine Flu isn't as serious as once thought. It's like a regular flu and people are recovering from it/have already recovered.

Japan had it's first 3 official cases like Friday of a teach and 2 high school boys, and they are getting better as well.

Japan doesn't want their population to be sick and out of work though, so on flights, you'll be given a questionaire and screening for signs for flu-like symptoms.

But you should probably let the directors or whoever, know that it isn't serious anymore. Have they kept up with the news? There's a wealth of information out there.
by Reina Jess (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/5/10 15:37
The Japanese media generally continues to blow it out of proportion. Accordingly, there are quite a lot of Japanese people who are worried about it. In extreme cases, people cancel their trips even to countries other than Mexico.
by Uji rate this post as useful

As Uji mentioned 2009/5/10 15:44
As Uji mentioned, the Japanese media is blowing this entire thing out of control and the people of Japan are accordingly freaking out about it.

It seems like whenever I flip on the telly, there's a news reporter reporting from the Prime Minister's residence, from the Ministry of Health, the hospital where the three people are being quarantined, etc. and to be honest, it's freaking pissing me off. Companies are mass e-mailing workers warning about swine flu, people wearing masks wherever they go, etc etc etc.

Anyways, that's how the media's operating right now and unfortunately, it probably would be the correct choice for your school to postpone your trip especially since there could be severe backlash from that town's citizens especially since most of them don't know better...

by Ralph (guest) rate this post as useful

Just came back from a crowded place 2009/5/10 16:51
Living in Japan as a Japanese (with a Yokohama high school student son) I have the impression that, generally, people aren't as worried as the media is.

The Japanese government are taking very precise and serious procedures trying to prevent the virus from coming anywhere beyond the port. The media hype is huge, and when a Yokohama City high school boy returned from overseas with fever, TV reporters in front of his hospital were yelling to the camera.

But so far, the people I know are quite fed up with this media hype. Pork is said to be safe if served well-done, and that is how it had always been served in Japan.

We are told by the media, doctors and school teachers that the way to prevent this desease is as same as ordinary influenza, which is to wash your hands, gargle and wear masks, but I hardly see any people wearing masks. There are way less masked people then there are during winter flu season or spring hay fever season. The media also tells us that as long as you get medication at an early stage or your illness, you will be cured just as you would in ordinary flu. Recently, I enjoyed a big party where several foreign tourists had participated, and noone really washed their hands before eating.

Yes, people I know are indeed postponing overseas travel, but that is mainly because they feel they can choose a better time to travel. It will indeed be more time-consuming to travel now.

The only thing that bothers us is probably the fact that the media is telling us that some hospitals are refusing to see patients with high fever. I hope things will be a bit more organized.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re-reading the original post 2009/5/10 17:06
Sorry, I just re-read the original question and thought I might add. I can tell you what would happen if you bring a class of students to Japan, especially if you're coming from North/Central American countries.

You and your students will be kept inside the aircraft for a very long time upon arrival to Japan, until quarantee staffs check every single person by hand. If it so happens that someone has high fever, that person will be sent directly to a hospital and will be kept anonymous but eventually will attract high media attention. About a dozen people who were seated around that person will also be hospitalized until they are secured they don't have the desease. Even if you don't have fever, exchanging seats during the flight might be considered risky, as you might spread the virus without knowing it.

As mentioned, high school boys and a teacher have been hospitalized, and according to the papers, the kids are pretty much bored to death as they hardly have contact with their friends and families. They are demanding to have their personal computers and clothes to change.

So it's a matter of how you handle these risks. And there are indeed schools in Japan that feel their planned overseas trip will be worth the risk.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Thanks! 2009/5/10 17:14
To Reina Jess and Uji: Thank you for your responses! I appreciate it :)

Ralph, I too was getting very frustrated with how badly thrown out of proportion Swine Flu was being publicized by the media. I never thought it was very deadly in the first place.
Thank you for your help!

Uco,Thank you for you very insightful posts!
My class is coming from a city in Alaska, and to my knowledge there are no known cases of Swine Flu here. When we fly to Japan we are flying threw Taipei, instead of the Lower 48 states. So I guess that means there is even less of a chance that anyone traveling on the same plane would have the flu.
I hope that the students and teacher who have been hospitalized in Japan are all doing ok, I'm sure they will pull through with a full recovery :)
Thanks again for your help! After reading your responses I feel more hopeful that my trip won't be canceled.

by Madio rate this post as useful

Just so you'd know 2009/5/10 21:52
When we fly to Japan we are flying threw Taipei, instead of the Lower 48 states. So I guess that means there is even less of a chance that anyone traveling on the same plane would have the flu.

Right, but you do have to keep in mind, that by that time there may be patients in Taipei (as there already are in Japan and Korea). And also note that Canada still hasn't suffered any death due to this flu, and yet quarantee was very strict and time-consuming for the students who came home from Canada. The first person to be suspected, hospitalized and media-hyped was a Japanese high school student returning from Canada (although it turned out days later that what he had was ordinary flu virus).

Just so that you know.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

It's a bother... 2009/5/14 15:41

I am doing a home stay right now and I admit it is not the best time to be traveling in Japan... We have been here for 10 days already and have our temperature checked everyday... Nobody is sick though... It's a bit exaggerated I think.
by Lizzy (guest) rate this post as useful

Wow 2009/5/14 16:15
Thanks Lizzy! Wow, they take your temperature everyday? That is a little over exaggerated, but I guess it's better safe than sorry?
It turns out my trip is indeed being postponed. thank you everyone who posted :)
by Madio rate this post as useful

Wise decision 2009/5/14 17:55
Madio, I'm sure some of your students are dissapointed by the trip being postponed, but as Lizzy mentioned, there will be better times to travel.

An American who happened to be seating near a patient and sent to a hotel along with others, took some photographs of the hotel and TV news was showing it. There are no laws to force him to be there, but he was encougaged to stay there at all times, in which he honored. The dining room in the photos was a fairly dark one, and each guest was to be seated about 3 yards apart from each other making it difficult for them to enjoy a conversation, the American says. The meal in the photo seemed balanced but didn't look that tasty.

A group of 4 Americans, professor and students, had left the airport and were staying in Kyoto when the government found out that a patient had once moved to a seat near them in the aircraft. They as well were strongly encouraged to stop touring and stay in their rooms, in which they honored. Yesterday, the government announced there had been a mistake, and that the patient hadn't moved to the different seat, so the 4 in Kyoto are free to tour now. The group held a press conference, and the professor told the media that the students had been "very brave". As an appology, the students may be treated to a festive event, though.

Those who were seated near patients were to be quarantined in a hotel for 10 days, but yesterday the government announced that the duration will be reduced to 7 days.

Note that in Japan, when about five or six people in one school get the (ordinary) flu, the school will be closed for about a week and all students are encouraged to stay home. It's that kind of a country. But indeed, the average health condition of those in Japan is fairly well in terms of death rate, diseases and life span.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

impressive paranoia 2009/5/14 20:57
Hong Kong government also quarantined travelers, but they apparently fed them well and went to great lengths to make them comfortable. I think that Japan's reaction to swine flu has been excessive.
by Tilt (guest) rate this post as useful

To be fair 2009/5/14 22:55
To be fair, Japan also brought photo books and sweats to the group in Kyoto to make them comfortable. And what I mentioned about the food not being tasty-looking is just my personal impression from looking at the photograph of the meal.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

for comparison 2009/5/15 00:42
Here is CNN's report on the HK quarantine experience:


They were at least allowed to socialize with one another and they could enjoy take out (or take away if you prefer).
by Tilt (guest) rate this post as useful

Swine flu 2009/5/15 09:21
I have several Japanese friends who confirmed Japan is very worried about that flu, as they are about any flu.
I know Japanese can be maniacs, when it's about hygiene and germs. But there's nothing to worry about.
by Hexi rate this post as useful

My friend 2009/5/15 09:55
My friend came to visit me in Los Angeles for a week during Golden Week. Here's what she's endured since returning:

1. Well publicized, people in weird looking suits walking onto planes and taking a look at the questionnaires filled out by passengers.

2. Constant calling from the local ward's health office (Hoken-jyo) during regular work hours.

3. Told over the phone despite showing absolutely no symptoms or anything, "please take your temperature for the next ten days and we will call you back next weekend. Also, we prefer you not go out in public except for real necessities."

4. Despite not passing 10 days, more constant calling from the health office during work. (Many people simply can't pick up their cell phones during work, yet the health office only operates from 8am to 5pm).

5. This is her own personal situation but: some people in her department at her office (works at a internationally known company) wearing masks to work ever since her returning telling her straight up, it's because you visited the US...

I'm guessing that this is the typical treatment recent returnees are getting from the government and media-obsessed public. If only they used a tenth of the energy and resources on fighting more serious problems like HIV and AIDS... Too bad though, to the Japanese media, that's yesterday's news.
by Bean (guest) rate this post as useful

.. 2009/5/15 10:48
I wouldn't say the Japanese are "Maniacs" when it comes to germs and illnesses, I think they are just cautious, and that is not a bad thing.
It seems to me what Japan and Hong Kong are doing is what is right in their eyes for their own country, and that's great!

by Madio rate this post as useful

swine flu situation in Tokyo now ?? 2009/5/15 11:36
I am supposed to go Tokyo in early June.. I even have my ait tickets issued in April. Now I am comtemplating whether to go ahead with my travel plans as i am bring my 4 yr old daughter... I am pretty worried.. Any advise or comments is appreciated.
by Annie (guest) rate this post as useful

relax 2009/5/15 11:55
Do not cancel your flight, it will be fine. There are very few cases of swine flu in Japan. Check the WHO or CDC website's the Japanese aothorities, media, and public are overreacting. Hong Kong's response has been much more measured.
The only people wearing masks in Hong Kong at the moment are the Japanese tourists. Japan really needs to take an objective look at its response to swine flu.
by Tilt (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/5/15 12:28
What are you worried about, Annie? Catching swine flu or problems entering the country due to coming from a country with confirmed cases?
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

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