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Hospitals, bars become the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak in Japan

Hospitals, bars become the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak in Japan

Posted March. 31, 2020 08:03,   

Updated March. 31, 2020 08:03


The reason behind Tokyo’s sudden spike in coronavirus cases appears to be cluster infections in hospitals and adult entertainment venues. Japanese health authorities are having difficulties identifying the source of new infections as those infected in adult entertainment venues refuse to share their recent whereabouts based on privacy reasons.

A total of 96 people at the Eiju General Hospital in the capital's Taito Ward, including medical staff and patients, have tested positive for COVID-19 between last Tuesday and Sunday. COVID-19 cases in Tokyo surged by 259 during the same period ㅡ about half of which were from the Eiju Genenral Hospital. The hospital stopped outpatient treatment last Tuesday to prevent further infections and visitors are temporarily barred.

Two nurses tested positive for the virus also at the National Cancer Center of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday. Additional cases could occur at the hospital as health authorities are currently testing 150 patients and doctors.

A considerable number of people have been reportedly infected with COVID-19 at adult entertainment venues. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed that coronavirus infections occurred at luxurious clubs in Roppongi and Ginza, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Monday, adding there is a high chance of cluster infections at the clubs. Hitoshi Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of Microbiology at Tohoku University, said cluster infections could easily occur at places, where one worker receives many guests one after another at close range even though the place is not crowded. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government asked its citizens to refrain from going outside in the evening until April 12 in order to prevent red-light districts from becoming the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

The problem is that those who visited adult entertainment venues do not come clean during epidemiological investigation. The NHK reported on Monday that the source of infections cannot be identified in 40 percent of COVID-19 cases, with COVID-19 cases in Tokyo exceeding 400. There are quite a few people among those 40 percent who visited restaurants in downtown areas, NHK added.

The Japanese government does not have legal power when conducting epidemiological investigation on COVID-19 patients. Those who visited adult entertainment venues often refuse to share information on the name of the venue or those who accompanied them, saying doing so could give them inconvenience. Restaurants or bars do not cooperate with health authorities, asking them not to come for investigation as it could trouble their customers.