Connect with us

General news

Masks, disinfectant, social distancing: Japan responds to disaster amid coronavirus

Published

on

Masks, disinfectant, social distancing: Japan responds to disaster amid coronavirus


Boxes of surgical masks, bottles of disinfectant and a sign saying “Please wear a mask” mark the entrance to a public gym in Yatsushiro city, a shelter for residents fleeing devastating floods in southwestern Japan this week.

Elsewhere in the gym, cardboard partitions separate the 233 evacuees’ sleeping areas and another sign instructs them to check their temperature each morning, then sterilise the thermometers.

The measures show what a thorny issue it is for Japan to deal with natural disasters in the time of coronavirus.

Japanese authorities have been warning local officials for months to include coronavirus measures in their disaster preparations.

Residents have been urged to seek shelter with friends or relatives if possible to avoid overcrowding evacuation centres.

But coronavirus contagion was the last thing on the mind of 78-year-old retiree Aiko Ishimura when neighbours knocked on her door on Monday to tell her about evacuation orders.

Ishimura, who lives alone, had planned to shelter at home.

“So we just came as we were. We were in such a rush to come here, we didn’t bring anything,” Ishimura, who fled with neighbours, told Reuters.

“I wasn’t worried at all about coronavirus, not at all.”

“We don’t have many cases here in the first place. We don’t really do the whole mask-wearing thing,” she added, although she said she keeps a mask in her pocket.

Kumomoto prefecture, where Yatsushiro is located, has had only 49 of Japan’s more than 20,000 coronavirus cases, according to public broadcaster NHK.

That compares with close to 7,000 in Tokyo, where cases are on the rise again among its 14 million residents.

Misa Matsuda, a 48-year-old nurse, accustomed to the annual floods in the region, had also intended to remain at home.

But she was stunned early Monday when she opened her door and found the river flowing just a few feet from her house.

“I thought, there’s no way the water would come up here to our house, where it’s a bit of a hill,” she said.

Extreme weather disasters have become increasingly common in Japan recently. Last year, Typhoon Hagibis killed nearly 100 people, a year after more than 200 died in western Japan in the worst flooding in decades.

Matsuda said she wasn’t too concerned about coronavirus because basic steps were being taken, but did worry residents would congregate to chat, creating just the sort of crowded conditions authorities say increase infection risk.

City official Takanobu Ono said the evacuation centre was limited to 300 people in spite  of a capacity for 500. But he said the priority for evacuees was escaping with their lives.

“Some of have just been saved by the skin of their teeth,” he said.

“The reality is that coronavirus is less of a concern for them … So we’re taking the measures we have to, but haven’t been so strict about it.”

About 60 people have died or were feared dead from floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains that have pounded the southwestern island of Kyushu, including Kumamoto prefecture, since Saturday.

Extreme rain warnings were issued for parts of central Japan on Wednesday.

Disaster experts said persuading people to evacuate early and find alternative shelters was vital, but agreed that convincing people to plan ahead was often tough.

“We kept saying, ‘Check your hazard map,’” said Masako Yoneda of the Japan Academic Network for Disaster Reduction, which issued an urgent warning on the topic in May.

“But still, there are people who don’t check.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

Emmanuel Okara: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

COVID-19: Nigeria strengthens surveillance to curb spread – WHO Condolences: Ekiti Assembly describes Fakiyesi, former lawmaker as an epitome of humility, openness ExxonMobil Nigeria gets new chief executive Cleric tasks religious leaders on establishing youth skills centres Banditry: NASS lauds army operations in North West Cricket: 150 participants expected at beginners course for umpires, scorers Nasarawa bye-election: Voters use face masks, observe social distancing, laud process Enugu govt urges proper exclusive breastfeeding habit Lawyer advocates attitudinal change toward local products Youths protest incessant killings in southern Kaduna Hit and run driver kills man in Ibadan — OYRTMA boss Lebanese vent rage against their leaders after blast; protesters gather Groups commend UN over adoption of resolution on protection of young people NGO holds choral performance to enlighten public on climate change Climate activists occupy power stations in Berlin and Mannheim Ngige at 68: NLC describes him as great man COVID-19: 87 stranded Nigerians arrive from Sudan Safety compliance: LASWA nabs 8 erring ferry operators Ekiti Speaker condoles with Fakiyesi’s family over death of former lawmaker Association plans massive rubber plantation, urges FG’s intervention Traditional leader says vigilance groups key to effective security KWSG assures traditional rulers of better welfare WAEC: Kano Govt sets up 12 examination centres for boarding students Tokyo Olympics: Non-contact sports to resume training in PH – Minister Amotekun commander solicits Ondo monarchs’, residents’ support Actualising Life’s dreams entails strong determination, says Nollywood actor National gas transportation network code to go-live Monday — Official Mauritius declares state of emergency on environment after oil spill United States imposes sanctions on Central African rebel leader Lebanese judge orders detention of top officials after port blast FG evacuates 325 more Nigerians from United States in 6th special flight Italy extends coronavirus restrictions, allows cruise ships to sail Cuba keeps Havana airport closed as coronavirus cases spike Nigeria: NCDC announces 443 new COVID-19 cases, total infections now 45,687 United States stimulus talks collapse, setting stage for Trump executive orders Devastated Sarri says he can’t be judged on basis of one match American golfer disqualified from PGA Championship after scoring error Ronaldinho inches closer to release from Paraguayan ordeal Edo polls: U.S expresses worry over deteriorating political climate, security interference 2020: China interfering against Trump, Russia against Biden — report NOSDRA, Agip investigate oil leak at Azuzuama, Bayelsa Environmental group urges African governments to rise against COVID-19, Climate and Health crises Police arrest suspects for criminal offenses, kill 1 in Niger Chelsea’s Kante ruled fit against Bayern-Lampard Gattuso says his Napoli are not just about grit and growls UCL: Ronaldo brace not enough as Olympique Lyon knock out Juventus UCL:Man City eliminate Real Madrid after Varane nightmare Resumption: Kogi govt. tasks heads of schools on conducive environment Kano Varsity promotes 17 lecturers to professors, associate professors KEKE Senior Grammar School, others excel in Y2020 Goveŕnors quiz competition