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Japan, faced with criticism, scrambles to do more coronavirus testing

54 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka

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© Thomson Reuters 2020.

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54 Comments
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Too late, as usual. By about 2 months this time

39 ( +42 / -3 )

So, Japan does nothing until its crit·i·cized? Scrambles to do testing? Japanese people never scramble to do anything. They think it over for a long time and never do they scramble. Who wrote this?

35 ( +39 / -4 )

Who cares, open up the world already. The world economy has taken enough damage.

-31 ( +10 / -41 )

O—————kay then....Better late than never

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gotta keep those statistics low for the world stage hence, no increased testing.

29 ( +30 / -1 )

Another big problem Japanese government will face is the criticism other nations will raise over Japan's poor performance.

Soon other nations will control it, And Japan will become problem for those nations to keep it controlled. Most likely Japan will be isolated from many nations.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

It's been 3 months more warning and now other then testing "Special" people the LDP have decided to (under pressure) to conform to a world standard that actually includes the citizens? That's got to hurt. Fancy that it's not enough we can afford cup noddles a test is really pushing it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

As a Japanese national, it's hard to disagree with any of the comments on here.

We are always too slow to act, and sadly, we care too much about our own image as a nation. I'm in my mid forties now, so don't have any time for 'cool Japan' and all that. But we have an awful, inept, insular government.

This testing should have started months ago, and no way do I believe the death figures. Japan is almost as bad as China for covering stuff up, though in this time of virus, the Chinese have been far more proactive when it came to testing.

I also think many people here see the death totals as some kind of competition. 'oh, Japan has a lower total than Europe or America'. As always, we Japanese want to compare from the top of our pathetic high horse.

Time to get real and test, look after all people of the world.

Stay safe, all. Apologies for my dreadful government.

39 ( +43 / -4 )

Who cares, open up the world already. The world economy has taken enough damage.

Yeah, who cares there's a deadly virus out there, that's highly contagious, and we don't currently have a vaccine for? Inconveniencing economies for as long as it takes to maximize people's safety, is a small price to pay.

I guess you haven't been personally affected by this virus yet. I hope you never are - it's not nice.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

The government is smart, now numbers a

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

Japan has been supposedly ' scrambling ' to do more for months and months regarding everything... scramble to do more tests, provide more beds for patients, PPE for medical staff, masks into the shops, financial support for the average Taro..etc. without any results.

As anything else J govt / bureaucracy is in charge of , even their 'scrambling' has been pathetically slow and inept. No doubt one of their dozens of oyaji expert panels is still ' considering & mulling over ' what definition of scrambling actually is... they should be releasing their report sometime soon in 2022.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The government is slow but smart, now numbers are going down and flu season is finished, relax the criteria, as overall the number of tests may not change even under these new criteria.

Secondly, if numbers go up again just blame it on the new criteria, that way people don't panic and the government won't have to shut down the economy.

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

Dr. Shigeru Omi is the President of the Japan Community Health Care Organization and the chairman of the experts panel advising the government. He has complained about "bureaucracy" being the cause of the testing failure.

Not even the top man can do anything about it. What a sclerotic shambles this has become.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

@oldman Who cares, open up the world already. The world economy has taken enough damage...

Dont worry your precious economy will come back..so when you lose someone close to you due to this virus you can thank them at their funeral for personally sacrificing themselves for your economy just like Jesus on the cross kinda stuff..

8 ( +11 / -3 )

It’s says a month ago, but still many residents in Tokyo never got faced mask.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Too little, too late. Coupled with people's failure to stay home from work, the coronavirus is now thoroughly entrenched, and will be here until a treatment and a vaccine are developed.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

You can bet that just like in the US, the senior Japanese pols and uber rich are getting tested - frequently.

Unfortunately for the US Pumpkin Headed President and his Snow White Dwarf VP, they didn't bother testing the lowly valets, staffers and other lowlifes around them, who are now testing positive, after having been in very close proximity to both, uh, "leaders"?, without masks or practicing social distancing.

Arrogance and ignorance rules the ruling parties.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I do not understand all this hype about the tests... if they do not have the chemical and the manpower to do them? Besides, hospitals are not packed with sick people and nobody is lining up waiting their number to die. Why people is so concerned? Don't you folks see the differences between here and abroad? Why do you wanna be like the others... with all their problems...?

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

Buying time in the usual fashion. Still not sure if it is either incredibly stupid due to systemic level incompetency OR incredibly brilliant due to high level resolve and strategic genius by those who have made the hard decisions other nations couldn’t. The body language of the PM doesn't however suggest the latter.

Japan has not been hit by the bus yet so something is holding. Time will indeed tell. This is a long hall situation. Must say one thing, it's been lovely to see young kids out in the fields helping grandma and granddad planting the rice and toiling the land. A reset button for the whole nation to reconsider whats really important in life.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The Japanese government has shown time and time again it needs to be pushed to wake up and act. Is the Japanese government too obese with corruption and cronyism? Had the ruling party been in power without any accountability for too long and is complacent?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I also think many people here see the death totals as some kind of competition. 'oh, Japan has a lower total than Europe or America'. As always, we Japanese want to compare from the top of our pathetic high horse.

This can be confirmed by finding average death statistics from last year and comparing them to this year to see if the medical system is undercounting corona virus deaths to avoid causing a panic and to allow the economy to open sooner.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Roger Jolly, hospitals are not packed with sick people.

Exactly! All these mentions about cover up and under testing, maybe, but if the morgues were full we would know about it.

Easy to criticize a government, with hindsight. I would have lived the perfect life with no mistakes, with hindsight.

Unless you're from Scandinavia (who's citizens have not bought into the hysteria) or a handful of other small states, not too much to look up to in regards to government adequacy.

For a population of 126.5 million, I think japan has done well under the circumstances. Could they have done better? Of course.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Hospital beds in Tokyo and other major cities are over subscribed. Patients with other needs are not getting the treatments they require.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Don't you folks see the differences between here and abroad?

Abroad which country specifically? It's not one place with one set of conditions. Some countries have been luckier than others, some have been more competent than others.

Meanwhile, Japan: who knows? Without testing, there is simply insufficient data.

And by the way, waiting for dead bodies to start accumulating is the worst possible way to gather data on the course of this epidemic. Especially when people are being actively discouraged from even requesting medical assistance, which puts them at far greater risk of dying at home and - because the authorities wish it - being excluded from the COVID figures.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan can do mass testing at anytime by automatizing the PRC test process. Please enlighten me as to why they did not and do not yet.

change.org/PCR_researcher

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Is the Japanese government too obese with corruption and cronyism? Had the ruling party been in power without any accountability for too long and is complacent?

Is that a trick question?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@oldman_13 I don’t care that you don’t care because yours is the minority view. Thankfully the future of Japan does not depend on people of our age.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I'm paraphrasing of course but....

On one hand they say...'we can't test, we don't have the resources'.

Then in same article they continue..'we can begin as soon as they are approved.'

Finally the death knell for antigen testing...'We need to think about utilizing them.'

Those hailing the 'plan' to re-open, it's obvious there is no plan. No grand strategy. Japan continues to fumble in the darkness, squirming to find a way to avoid paying salary compensation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Testing has little to do with substantial health care treatment. Many active testing countries have higher death tolls (causality may be reversed). By contrast, Thailand has a fewer number of testing than Japan, and fewer number of deaths (per 1 million people).

Also beware of the reliability problem: PCR testing has 60-70% accuracy. False results in both negative and positive sides without other inquires for diagnosis could jeopardize the overall response strategy.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

In a recent report, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Imperial College London, recommends a targeted testing only for key groups (patients, medical staff and high risk community members) instead of widespread, random and near compulsory testing to general population. The Centre is collaborating with the WHO.

Report 16 - Role of testing in COVID-19 control

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-16-testing/

From its summary:

Widespread PCR testing in the general population is unlikely to limit transmission more than contact-tracing and quarantine based on symptoms alone, but could allow earlier release of contacts from quarantine.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The morgues are full! Just that you don’t know it......yet.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Japan is almost as bad as China for covering stuff up, though in this time of virus, the Chinese have been far more proactive when it came to testing.

I slightly disagree with this statement at an aspect.

China actually covers up way way better than Japan. The Chinese brought the entire WHO and forced every medical academic except the USA to buy up their craps. Of course, the Chinese did mass testings but the efficiency is not proven. China still critically lacks components to mass produce the testing kits. Other word, the CCP has to sacrifice few hundred of thousands or even a million to save face. The Chinese government has been covering up and fixing up their mistakes spectacularly. China still has the plague, and we aren't sure how bad it is going inside China.

Meanwhile, Japan sucks at covering up and fixing the mistakes. Japanese government pulls up the Nihonjiron politeness to get away with most of the bad things on the international stages. In recent years, they can't do it anymore as Western news outlets begin criticizing Japan on social issues like women's rights, inequality, unfair trade practices,... The Covid-19 exposes the weaknesses of Japan's government and international criticisms mounting everyday. The Pandemic may be an opportunity for the Western journalists prying and exposing the incompetence of Japanese system. China and Japan are on different level, which China is the superior. Japan's Abe wishes to be like the CCP but LDP cronies are too incompetent to do so.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The expert panel advising the government said on Monday the"overwhelming" shortage of personal protective equipment for sample collectors and laboratory technicians has been one factor behind a slow pickup in the number of PCR tests.

Reasons given are always conflicting and changing like the autumn weather. Didn't they complain of lack of personel and also lack of beds prior to hotels being secured to accomodate mild cases.

Most hospitals are scared of in-hospital infection and will give any reason not to do or admit those with virus like symptoms.

PCR test will not increase if the roles that the health centers play is not reduced, they are understaffed and presently overstretched, the entire burden on the health centers. Increasing testing would mean more work for the hokenjos. It is just natural that they will turn down most test request.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The only criticisms/ bellyaching are the people up on this site. Calm down.You're very much alive and well with it.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

As a Japanese national, it's hard to disagree with any of the comments on here.

Spot on.

You are a rare Japanese.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I cannot agree more with many of the points made regarding the criticism of the Japanese Government.

There absolutely needs to be more testing done and agreed should have started 3 months ago.

The only difference between Japan and the USA and may be holding down our numbers here and not a guarantee until more testing is no one is protesting face masks, many are staying at home (not all) but for the most part are staying home. People are trying to keep the distance when shopping and most stores are closing earlier and or not open at all.

The downside is there are still restaurants open at night who are permitting people to sit in groups drinking and eating saw this last night below my condo a noodle shop. 4 men drinking, eating and laughing as nothing was amiss in the world it would be nice to see more reporting on these restaurants that remain open to this kind of business.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese government systematically does not have a strong power like other countries. Japan became too much democratic and the government became too weak. They cannot enforce strong decisions upon people. As a result, every thing is slow and half done. A good example, they took 30 or more years to build the Narita Airport.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Inaccurate testing of only 60-70% accuracy will only bring more confusion and distrust towards the government as well as the test itself.

Statistically speaking with the amount of fatalities as the denominator with the average fatality rate you can deduct the potential infection number or the numerator but most doomsdaysayers just won't accept the math.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This is absolute bull. This will only be used to reinforce a lockdown once stay at home order is lifted. It will inflate the numbers and the media will scream bloody murder and drag the economy further through the dirt.

I have faith in the Japanese people and they will see through this scam. They already are. Gigs up bill gates

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

@zichi

Hospital beds in Tokyo and other major cities are over subscribed. Patients with other needs are not getting the treatments they require.

At least, ventilators and ECMOs are sufficiently available while the number of seriously ill patients are decreasing in Tokyo as well as nationwide in Japan. It's said there are 3,000 ventilators available, of which only 237 are used as of today.

COVID-19 重症患者状況 日本COVID-19対策ECMOnet集計

https://covid19.jsicm.org/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am truly disappointed by the J Gov’s response.

I am also confused on so many levels.

too little, too late.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm looking forward to going though the end of year population stats which are publicised annually. Eg. we have 125 million people, which is a reduction of X number on last year in the following demographics.

If there is a sudden drop in the population over and above the number expected, and that doesn't tally with the official number of deaths due to Covid-19 . . . . . what else with the government blame it on?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Famous Japanese people who died of the coronavirus are hospitalized at best hospitals in Tokyo. They probably were administered ventilators (ECMO). But they died. I suspect ECMO killed them.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If there is a sudden drop in the population over and above the number expected, and that doesn't tally with the official number of deaths due to Covid-19 . . . . . what else with the government blame it on

the govt will probably ascribe it to same thing most everyone will, to covid19.

Even now they are probably already chalking up the deaths due to pneumonia but untested to "possible covid19 deaths"

"Untested" means untested only for sars-cov-2, the patients were more likely have been tested for other likely causes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The panic around this virus is irrational & hysterical.

In New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic with more than one-third of all U.S. deaths, the rate of death for people 18 to 45 years old is 0.01 percent, or 10 per 100,000 in the population. On the other hand, people aged 75 and over have a death rate 80 times that. For people under 18 years old, the rate of death is zero per 100,000. 

Of all fatal cases in New York state, two-thirds were in patients over 70 years of age; more than 95 percent were over 50 years of age; and about 90 percent of all fatal cases had an underlying illness. Of 6,570 confirmed COVID-19 deaths fully investigated for underlying conditions to date, 6,520, or 99.2 percent, had an underlying illness. If you do not already have an underlying chronic condition, your chances of dying are small, regardless of age. And young adults and children in normal health have almost no risk of any serious illness from COVID-19.

If we help the old and the sick to self-isolate, the rest of us can get on with our lives.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@RationalReader

NOT irrational. It is completely new and the long term effects of infection are still unknown. There's reports in America of a mid 30s perfectly healthy scuba diver loving male having a mild case of covid, then after recovering an Xray showed his lungs had so much damage caused they can never scuba dive ever again.

Still so many unknowns.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Rational. I am well read as well and in total agreement.

@lesenfart. Long term effects of all new and tested drugs are the same. What was the health background of the scuba diver and his family? You do not know, so please stop with there was one guy...kind of stuff.

I think economic issues should be ignored and open up everything. There is more to life than sitting in a room and ordering pizza delivery.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Japanese Government: "We have thought long and hard about this, formed numerous panels, and spent millions of yen hiring the nation's top retired shachos to discuss doing something, and after spending months coming to the conclusion that time is something we don't have in a pandemic, we have concluded that something should be done. Yes, it's true, at America's behest we have rammed through permission to begin using an untested drug, but more than that we have decided we shall no longer require ten days on death's door before getting a test -- it will now be 9.75 days, and inside the entrance, not the door. No longer will a fever of 37.5 degrees for four days be necessary to receive permission to seek the means to wait for a test, but realising that even among Japanese, with our unique body temperatures, some people have higher temperatures than average, and so we have decided that 37.4 degrees for four days but only three nights will suffice before waiting 9.75 days. Until then, please use the masks graciously provided by our Prime Minister when they arrive at the lifting of the emergency declaration (picking out any insect larvae and/or human or animal hairs), and avoid all circumstances that would put people in close proximity to each other, except at banks, supermarkets, commuter trains, offices, city halls, and other such venues that the virus has agreed to leave us alone at. We are going to hold a very important press conference to announce further information on an announcement at a date to be announced at said conference."

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Smith

You made my day.

Need stuff like this to lighten us up

While on our endless wait for the 2 mask and 100K from dear leader.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@hotelstar

Unless you're from Scandinavia (who's citizens have not bought into the hysteria) or a handful of other small states, not too much to look up to in regards to government adequacy.

Um, would you care to elaborate a little? What do you mean by 'hysteria' exactly, reg. Scandinavia?

And surely you have know Scandinavia consists of several countries, and each country has had very different approaches to the virus, depending on the country? Reading the rest of your message though, I have a strong feeling that to you, perhaps Sweden alone = Scandinavia.

Sweden is hitting very high numbers with covid-19 cases and covid-19 deaths, as they have not controlled pretty much anything, whereas e.g. Norway and Finland are doing much better in constraining/slowing down the spread of the virus, exactly BECAUSE they've had rather tough restrictions in place. And yes, these restrictions are just common sense, not hysteria.

"The head of Sweden's coronavirus response said in a new interview that the country's high death toll had "come as a surprise" and was "really something we worry a lot about.""

(https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-sweden-lockdown-chief-says-high-death-toll-was-surprise-2020-5)

P.S. I'm Scandi living in Japan myself, so I know what I'm talking about.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

japanese go'v incapable of quick response get rid of the old geezers time for revolution now

4 ( +5 / -1 )

In other news they are scrambling at the pedestrian walk in Shibuya too ;)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

P.S. I'm Scandi living in Japan myself, so I know what I'm talking about.

Hey, you left out Denmark!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Enough of this testing nonsense already! Like if testing was going to stop the spread of the illness. Open up the country, I rather die free than live like this! If you're worried a lot, you stay home then, don't worry about others.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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