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Japan gov't gives 7 examples of high coronavirus infection risk situations

This supplied electron micrograph shows the new coronavirus that was first identified in the city of Wuhan in central China. (Photo courtesy of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government's coronavirus advisory subcommittee presented seven situations that could increase infection risk, including social gatherings involving alcohol consumption, on Sept. 25.

    The government, which will include Tokyo in the "Go To Travel" tourism subsidy campaign starting on Oct. 1, aims to prevent the spread of infections by presenting concrete examples of high-risk behavior.

    The subcommittee warned people to be highly wary of social gatherings involving alcohol consumption; eating or drinking out until late at night, or in large groups; talking in a large group, or without wearing a mask; socializing time after work and during breaks; communal life; exercise causing heavy breathing; and before and after doing activities outdoors.

    Among these, the government panel especially warned of social gatherings involving drinking. When people are drinking in a group, they tend to speak in loud voices as their hearing can become degraded due to the alcohol. Risk of contracting the virus rises if many people stay in a closed space for a long time. This is also the case for eating or drinking in large groups until late at night.

    Even if office work itself only carries a low risk, people tend to gather after work or during break times, coming into close contact. During these times, there could be people who take off their masks.

    Continuing on the theme of groups spending time in closed spaces, living in a dormitory, or other forms of communal life, also increase infection risk. Risk is also high if doing exercise that makes you breathe hard in a closed space with poor ventilation and little social distancing. Meanwhile, it is easy to end up in a crowded place when outside the home, such as using public transport and eating out.

    Regarding behavior while using the Go To campaign subsidy, the subcommittee urged people to travel in small groups to differing destinations on a staggered schedule. It also recommended the campaign be discontinued if the national or local governments raised the four-stage coronavirus alert scale to stage-3, in which hospital bed capacities become strained.

    (Japanese original by Ryosuke Abe, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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