What makes Japan different

It looks like South Korea has actually cut off the novel coronavirus: Korea's Center for Disease Control (KZSK) only reported four new infections on Thursday. In Japan, on the other hand, the government has extended the state of emergency. Japan, with a population of 126 million, and South Korea, with a population of 51 million, both have a lively exchange with China.

Infection from infected travelers must have come about early in both countries. Even so, South Korea hit the first wave much harder. It was not until a month later that Japan's curve rose steeply. Now Japan is wrestling with its case numbers, while South Korea is slowly relaxing. Why? Can you learn about how to deal with an epidemic by comparing the two neighbors?

Japan's first Covid-19 case came to light on January 16: a 30-year-old Chinese resident in Japan. He had been in Wuhan, had developed a fever, and nine days after his return, his test at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases (NII) was found to be positive for the coronavirus. Two weeks later, the corona virus was found in a bus driver from Nara. He was the first Japanese with Covid-19 who had not been to Wuhan before. He had chauffeured two tour groups from Wuhan on a round trip.

South Korea reported its first Covid-19 case on January 20: a Chinese woman from Wuhan. The heat scanner at Incheon Airport indicated that she had a fever and was taken to a specialty isolation hospital for testing and treatment. She had contact with 44 people, the KZSK announced, nine of them are no longer in the country, the rest are under observation.

You could feel the vigilance of the authorities early on. On February 10, 2776 people were tested for the corona virus in South Korea, Japan had not yet passed that many tests three weeks later. The city government in Seoul launched a major information campaign: posters, screens and announcements in four languages ​​urged people to wash their hands, hold their elbows in front of their mouths when sneezing, and wear masks on trains. Most of them followed.

From the beginning of February, Japan's Ministry of Health was with the quarantine on the cruise ship Diamond Princess busy - there was criticism. The virology professor Kentaro Iwata from Kobe called the conditions on the ship "chaotic", the virus could be anywhere on board; ultimately 712 of 3711 passengers and crew members got Covid-19. On land, however, the number of infections was inconspicuous. The Ministry of Health called on everyone with a fever to only report if the temperature did not drop after four days in order to relieve test centers and hospitals.