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Another death from coronavirus in Hokkaido; in-hospital infection suspected

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Another good reason to spend as little time as possible in filthy hospitals and clinics with other sick people.

14 ( +21 / -7 )

I just spend 10 days in hospital in Kobe including a night and day in a HCU. My private room with a toilet and shower was cleaned every day.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

From the New York Times:

Other countries with aging populations, like South Korea and Italy, which have both experienced recent surges in infections, are also facing acute challenges. Those two countries have done just what experts recommend: They have moved quickly to test large numbers of people so they can be treated and isolated from others.

South Korea is conducting more than 10,000 tests a day; Japan, by contrast, is performing only a tiny fraction of that. What’s more, the Japanese authorities recommend that elderly patients be tested for the coronavirus only after they have had a fever for at least two days (for most others, it is four days).

That may be too late for many older people, said Masahiro Kami, a physician and executive director of the Tokyo-based nonprofit Medical Governance Research Institute.

He speculated that the limitations might be driven by politics, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to keep the spread of the virus from derailing the Tokyo Olympics. “It may be Abe or someone around him wants to downplay the number of infections or patients because of the upcoming Olympics,” Dr. Kami said.

Japan currently has the capacity to conduct about 4,000 tests a day, but it has carried out less than half that number on any given day since the crisis began, according to statistics provided by the health ministry.

South Korea, which reported on Saturday that cases in the country had risen to 3,150, has offered drive-through testing in Daegu, a hard-hit city, and other places, while in Hong Kong, clinics have begun to give residents kits that allow them to take the tests at home and send them to a lab.

“You wonder, if they were testing nearly as much as South Korea is testing, what would the actual number be? How many cases are lurking and just aren’t being caught?” said Tobias Harris, an expert on Japanese politics at Teneo Intelligence in Washington.

Making the problem worse, only a small number of public health centers in Japan have been authorized to provide the tests, which can be processed by just five companies selected by the government, creating a potential bottleneck.

That has forced clinics to turn patients away, even when they are presenting serious symptoms like high fever, according to news reports and statements from the Japan Medical Association, which said it had begun looking into the issue.

Erika Tamada, 33, a nursery school teacher from Hyogo Prefecture who lives with her 59-year-old parents, 83-year-old grandfather and younger sister, said both her mother and grandfather had had fevers and other symptoms, including runny noses and coughs.

But neither of them has been able to get tested for the virus, by local public health clinics or by the hospital they visited. Ms. Tamada said she was taken aback when a doctor at a health center told them to “wash hands, gargle and just work hard not to get infected.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/world/asia/japan-elderly-coronavirus.html

15 ( +17 / -2 )

 Masahiro Kami, is the doctor that has been most critical of Abe and his governments actions regarding the virus. He has stated that closing the schools is ineffective, only placing a larger burden on parents. He also said more testing is needed, but as the above article states, Abe does not want testing done. They do not want real numbers to come out and spook the general population(too late for that) but especially the international community, all in an effort to save their precious Tokyo Olympics!

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Abe does not want testing done. They do not want real numbers to come out and spook the general population(too late for that) but especially the international community, all in an effort to save their precious Tokyo Olympics!

That makes absolutely no sense, its quite obvious that not testing would ensure more cases in the very near future, so it would ensure a much more negative response, delayed only a few days. Olympics are not next week, so it takes no effort to see that hiding cases would mean higher chances of cancellation.

The real reason do not require conspiracies and it is well know to anybody that deal with health services in Japan, lawmakers simply exaggerate protective measures to a degree that makes fighting diseases unnecessarily complicated.

Sometimes this means rejecting safe vaccines because of rumors of antivaxxer organizations, other times is making impossible to develop gene therapies by exaggerating the ethical problems. This time the problem is that testing can only be done in tiny numbers because of the draconian rules on infectious diseases make it impossible to handle new pathogens except on very limited places thanks to the huge public uproar every time any laboratory or university wants to build a BSL3 or BSL4 laboratory.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

a doctor at a health center told them to “wash hands, gargle and just work hard not to get infected.

That's pretty much all you can do although, gargling can be a negative as it also removes the body's antibodies in saliva.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Alejandra,

Thank you for posting this article. Although the article is highly speculative and would be difficult to believe I have been thinking the along the same lines; why are there so few reported cases in Japan? I do not believe the numbers are so low given the size of the population relative to South Korea and Japan's population density. The reason is either a lack of test kits or something worse (the fear of cancellation of the Olympics. I saw on Saturday night Abe is hoping that the ability to quickly test for the virus will be available within March (I think he was referring to what is being developed in Kanagawa).

I hope this speculation is wrong (but I believe it is possible it is true). In general Japan has a very favorable image around the world, unlike China, however if this is found to be true Japan's image would be destroyed and tarnished for decades.

I sincerely hope the speculation is wrong.

One other item; along the lines of which Disillusioned said, it is very unlikely gargling protects one against a virus. However here is an article about this which presents both points of view (the Kyoto University study - which used iodine and water) and the rebuts.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/does-gargling-prevent-colds/

6 ( +6 / -0 )

much like wearing masks, it's silly to test everyone to stop the spread of covid-19. gov'ts should switch from a containment strategy to a vaccine strategy because it's already too late.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Thank you for posting this article.

I'll second that. It was extremely informative!

Although the article is highly speculative and would be difficult to believe I have been thinking the along the same lines; why are there so few reported cases in Japan? I do not believe the numbers are so low given the size of the population relative to South Korea and Japan's population density.

Agree 100%

The reason is either a lack of test kits or something worse (the fear of cancellation of the Olympics.

That's what I'm thinking...

I hope this speculation is wrong (but I believe it is possible it is true).

Same here.

In general Japan has a very favorable image around the world, unlike China, however if this is found to be true Japan's image would be destroyed and tarnished for decades.

That's 5 in a row!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

There is no vaccine and probably another year away

5 ( +8 / -3 )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycrqXJYf1SU

saw this documentary on the virus on Saturday. Really harrowing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Alejandra,

Thank you for posting the article.

Tokyo-Engr,

Thanks for writing valid points in a way that couldn't have been written better.

All said and done, in my very very personal opinion, I guess the truth about the numbers in Japan, and the truth about how the virus 'really originated' in China, will never come out. These would have lots of political and economic repercussions.

I am deeply disappointed in how the pandemic is being handled in Japan... As though you can postpone stuff and deal with it later.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I just spend 10 days in hospital in Kobe including a night and day in a HCU. My private room with a toilet and shower was cleaned every day.

Sorry to hear of your health troubles - hopefully long behind you now. The “do no harm” oath of the medical profession is for a good reason. A small but startling percentage of people become fatalities from their hospital stays. Human errors in various ways.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@zichi

There is no vaccine and probably another year away

I am thinking along the same lines as you with a possibility of a shorter horizon.

Given the unusual and strange nature of this virus (re-infections and extreme ability to transmit) I will certainly not be lining up among the first to take this vaccine.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan and the US will have problems with the Coronavirus and there are probably a lot more people infected that people believe. Japan, because it doesn't really conduct testing for it. The US because of the health insurance issues and the fact that people only run to the doctor for chronic issues. There are many people spreading the virus believing it to just be a cold. Many people in the US can't afford health care and are more worried about receiving a bill than being healthy.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Notice how Japan has more deaths than Korea but far less confirmed infections?

I suspect there are many, many more infections in Japan that are going undetected

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In the past three months, about 5,000 people in the U.S. have died from the flu.

Almost nothing in the news about that.

One person in the U.S. with prior major health problems dies after contracting the coronavirus -- and the media can't shut up about it.

It's very safe to presume that similar statistics apply to Japan as well.

How many people in Japan have died after getting the flu this winter? Probably an awfully lot more than have died from the coronavirus.

I'm not saying don't take the coronavirus seriously -- but it's getting to the point now where it's being blown way out of proportion.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@JenniSchiebel

the news is not 5 people died from Coronavirus in Japan

it is that if nothing is done to contain the virus from spreading that figure can grow to 500,000 or more in a worst case scenario.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Jenni

I'm not saying don't take the coronavirus seriously -- but it's getting to the point now where it's being blown way out of proportion.

Yes and no.....I admit that this virus is being hyped by the media, merely based on the fact that this is what the media does. The constant availability of news these days does not help either (Internet, 24 hour news channels etc.).

I think caution is needed. There are so many things about this virus I find worrisome;

the most prominent is the reinfections that have occurred here in Japan, in China, and I believe elsewhere. This virus is not acting normal.

the very, very radical measures being taken by China to control this virus (i.e. actions that will nearly devastate their economy) and China's total unwillingness to be transparent

the ability of this virus to spread. It seems more contagious than the flu or cold

the death rate seems to be an order of magnitude higher than that of the flu

On the other hand it is completely possible (nearly likely) that there are 10's or 100's of thousands of un-diagnosed cases (people that got this and got better) which would make the mortality rate a lot lower.

I do not think there is enough information to say there is an overreaction at this point.

No one seems to be talking about the origin of the virus anymore.....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It only makes sense to test those showing symptoms of the virus. The numbers are of course much higher than those announced. People with very minor symptoms will think its nothing more than a common cold and carry on about their business. This is what the government should be focusing on.

Anyone with a cough, sore throat or fever. STAY HOME.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When is Japan going to start reporting the real cases such as in Sendai from a person who was on the ship and now tested positive for the virus. Where is the latest updated map and most current with cases. ????

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Elections across Japan local starting. These people have the most potential in spreading the virus as the patrol all the streets in towns and cities, probable because they go go go until they drop flu or no flu...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The NYT article is naive at best.

There is no mention of which specific tests are being used in Korea and Japan. There is more than one way to do a CV test. Proper testing is not simple.

This WHO document shows very clearly that countries are using different tests. Therefore, the simple numbers game in the NYT is irresponsible journalism.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/laboratory-guidance

Japan appears to be using essentially the same guidelines for testing as the US.

Yesterday, when I checked, US sources were saying that there would be the capacity to test 10,000 per day in "about two weeks."

The US population is 3.5x that of Japan. If the US was well prepared as Japan, it should be capable of testing 14,000 per day now. Assuming the tests that Korea is using are reliable and that Korea is the model for how things should be done, on a population adjusted basis the US should be capable of 63,000 tests per day now, not 10,000 per day in a couple of weeks.

The NYT article looks like a disguised excuse for the lack of preparation in the US.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

even if diamond princess is added, South Korea still has more deaths than Japan

2 ( +4 / -2 )

why are there so few reported cases in Japan? I do not believe the numbers are so low given the size of the population relative to South Korea and Japan's population density. 

Because South Korea had the Shichion Church. The church had over 200,000 members and they had branches in Wuhan. Simply put Korea had more cases because they had more people going in and out of Wuhan.

It is not matter of testing . It is matter of risk factors. Korea had more exposure to Wuhan compared to Japan.

Thus they had more cases.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

we all know that not testing to hide true number of cases does not make sense so it cannot be the reason.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@JeniScheibel

In the past three months, about 5,000 people in the U.S. have died from the flu.

Almost nothing in the news about that.

One person in the U.S. with prior major health problems dies after contracting the coronavirus -- and the media can't shut up about it.

The flu deaths are in the news all the time. Even in Japan. The English speaking sites in Japan don't seem to report on it but it was on NHK and MBS as well as in Japanese newspapers. English news agencies in Japan are very selective on what they choose to cover.

Also, the CDC in the USA has been and still are warning people that the bigger threat right now is the flu season because we are only in the middle of it and this year has been particularly hard.

Lastly, the flu season right now is sparking a lot of talk about healthcare in the US as to how many people are forgoing basic care because they can't afford it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Also, cases are being reported Japanese language sites that never make it to English language sites like this one.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@kurisupisu

Also, cases are being reported Japanese language sites that never make it to English language sites like this one

That is correct. Like the man in Nishinomiya that works in Osaka or the three people from the music event in Osaka that came back positive with the virus last week.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Also, cases are being reported Japanese language sites that never make it to English language sites like this one.

The Ministry of health and welfare has an English website with update numbers and data about the Covid 19 virus.

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@kurisupisu

There is a daily follow up of the know case over there :

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/liveblogs/news/coronavirus-outbreak-updates/

If you click to see the article, usually around the end of the day there is one about the new cases.

The database is there :

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jfB4muWkzKTR0daklmf8D5F0UfIYAgcx-Ij9McClQ/edit#gid=0

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is not matter of testing . It is matter of risk factors. Korea had more exposure to Wuhan compared to Japan.

Thus they had more cases.

BS , it is precisely matter of testing and you know it well , thats how countries like Italy suddenly magically leapfrogged Japan in number of cases adding hundreds a day, whilst Japan keeps on adding between 10 to 20 a day since they started testing. or are you gonna say that Italy ( Lombardy in particular ) have more exposure to Wuhan than Japan too?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If the coronavirus can spread asymptomaticly, I'd say its pretty uncontainable. Fortunately, you'll have a healthier looking population pyramid when its finished running its course.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If Japan indeed has more cases or even the same number of infection as South Korea and Italy, albeit untested and undetected, we should be seeing more severe cases and deaths than we're seeing now, comparable or more to that of the said two countries. Is that so difficult to understand?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Can someone explain what is a patent on the coronavirus? Was told that the US has a patent - human engineered - for the coronavirus.

The US also has a vaccine (drug) for the coronavirus and that China tried to apply for its use. The article also says China has a patent and the US drug company tried to apply for the patent for the use of the drug against the virus.

If there is indeed a vaccine for COVID-19, how can it not be used to save lives around the world?

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/06/asia-pacific/science-health-asia-pacific/wuhan-patent-us-drug-remdesivir-coronavirus/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

https://www.google.co.jp/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/6515020/china-scientists-drug-coronavirus/amp/

Scientists in the city at the centre of China’s virus outbreak have applied to patent a drug made by U.S. company Gilead Science Inc. to treat the disease, possibly fueling conflict over technology policy that helped trigger Washington’s tariff war with Beijing.

The government-run Wuhan Institute of Virology said this week it applied for the patent in January along with a military laboratory. An institute statement acknowledged there are “intellectual property barriers” but said it acted to “protect national interests.”

Granting its own scientists a patent might give the Chinese government leverage in negotiations over paying for the drug. But it also might fuel complaints Beijing abuses its regulatory system to pressure foreign companies to hand over valuable technology.

On Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency said clinical trials of the drug, remdesivir, were due to start.

Gilead, headquartered in Foster City, California, said it applied in 2016 for a Chinese patent on use of remdesivir against coronaviruses and is waiting for a decision. The coronavirus family includes the novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, blamed for the outbreak in Wuhan.

“Gilead has no influence over whether a patent office issues a patent to the Chinese researchers,” said a company spokesman, Ryan McKeel. “Their application has been filed more than three years after Gilead’s filing and will be considered in view of what is already known about the compound and pending patent applications.”

The institute said its application was filed Jan. 21. Two days later, Chinese authorities suspended most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. That lockdown has expanded to surrounding cities and some in other provinces, isolating a total of about 60 million people in the most sweeping anti-disease measures ever imposed.

China has the right under World Trade Organization rules to declare an emergency and compel a company to license a patent to protect the public. It would be required to pay a license fee that is deemed fair market value.

The government might be able to avoid that fee if the patent were granted to the Wuhan institute, part of the elite Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The institute said it applied for a “use patent” that specifies the Wuhan virus as the drug’s target. Gilead’s patent application, filed before the virus was identified, cites only the overall family of coronaviruses.

The Chinese researchers made their patent application “from the perspective of protecting national interests,” said the institute statement.

“If relevant foreign companies plan to contribute to China’s epidemic prevention and control, we both agree that if the state needs it, we will not require enforcement of rights given by the patent,” it said.

Gillead said last week it was working with U.S. and Chinese health authorities on studying remdesivir. The company said it has provided the drug for emergency use in a small number of patients with the Wuhan virus “in the absence of any approved treatment options.”

Remdesivir was used to treat the first U.S. patient with the new virus by doctors at a hospital north of Seattle. A detailed report on the patient’s symptoms and treatment was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The man has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, but it’s not clear whether the Gilead drug helped him or not.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

A patent gives you proprietary rights over the thing patented. So over a period of time you have exclusive rights to it, to sell for example. In the article the US company who makes the drug applied for a patent in China for its use in treating coronaviruses. So now China seems to wants said rights for itself by applying for a patent also, also in China.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zichi you paid for a private room.

Fact remains hospitals are filthy places that have infected many people and staff with all kinds of things...the corona virus included

0 ( +0 / -0 )

thepersoniamnow

Zichi you paid for a private room.

yes I did and would have been cheaper was I still living in Kobe. But the non paid rooms have four beds and were just as clean. My wife sleep in the room with me on a cot bed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aight man you win.

Hospitals are clean places, where people do not get infected in the waiting rooms.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

thepersoniamnow

Aight man you win.

Hospitals are clean places, where people do not get infected in the waiting rooms.

No it not like that, you said hospitals were dirty I said not all based on my experience. There are very good hospitals, good hospitals and poor hospitals. Do your research and find very good ones. I had a biopsy at a very good hospital last October in Himeji. For the operation I travelled from Tatsuno to Port Island in Kobe on the recommendation of a professor from Okayama University. When I recover some I will return to Port Island and Himeji for rehab work.

Hospitals are for sick people. If I didn't attend and have my op my condition would become terminal and my life would end.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aight man I think we are talking about different things. But the most important thing is that you recovered and are getting better.

Obviously rooms in nice hospitals are clean.

I have been to the hospital twice in the ER waiting room this month.

It was a clean place yes, but full of people with sicknesses, flu’s, and all kinda problems. The seats there mist be covered in bacteria.

I didnt bother sitting and left to wait outside.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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