COVID-19 Information for Kumamoto JETs

This page contains information useful to Kumamoto JETs regarding the 2019 coronavirus disease (新型コロナウイルス感染症, shingata koronauirusu kansenshō) caused by SARS-CoV-2.

This page was last updated on 25 November 2022.

Content:
1. National Announcements
2. Prefectural Announcements [UPDATED]
3. Guidelines for consulting with the Kumamoto Prefecture Consultation Center for COVID-19
4. Spread of COVID-19 - Clusters and the Three Cs (3つの密)
5. New Lifestyle Recommendations (新しい生活様式)
6. COVID-19 Contact Confirming Application (COCOA)
7. External Links

1. National Announcements

From 0:00 am (JST) on October 11, 2022, based on the New Border Measures (34), for all cross-border travelers and returnees from countries/regions where the B.1.1.529 Omicron variant becomes dominant (all countries/regions except for those where COVID-19 variants other than the Omicron variant become dominant, based on the New Border Measures (27) (February 24, 2022)), self-quarantine in places such as their own residence or accommodations and refraining from use of public transportation are no longer required in principle.

On arrival COVID-19 testing is no longer required unless entrants and returnees have suspected COVID-19. However, all returnees and entrants are required to provide either a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate (3 doses) of vaccines on the Emergency Use List of World Health Organization (WHO) or a certificate of negative result of pre-departure COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departing from the original country/region.

For more information regarding the abovementioned, please check MOFA of Japan's website here.

You can also access the MHLW of Japan's website on border control and requirements to enter Japan here. If you plan to travel abroad and then re-enter Japan, we suggest you check out this website.

Measures regarding wearing masks in public have been relaxed.

  • If a person is indoors and is physically distant from others and rarely converses with them, it is not necessary for the person to wear a mask.
  • If a person is outdoors, as long as a physical distance from others can be maintained, or if the person rarely talks with others, it is not necessary to wear a mask.
  • Even if the person is not able to keep a distance from others, it is not necessary to wear a mask if the person rarely has a conversation with others.

2. Prefectural Announcements

Risk Level:
Kumamoto Prefecture uses a 6-stage "Risk Level" scale in public communications regarding the state of spread of COVID-19 infections in the prefecture, with the lowest level being 0 and the highest 5.

The current risk level is set at Level 2. (as of Nov. 25, 2022)

The number of reported new positive cases within the prefecture yesterday was 1368 people. (as of November 25, 2022)

For more simplified information regarding the severity of the reported infected individuals and hospital bed utilization rate in Kumamoto, please check here. (Japanese)

[UPDATED] For the time being, you are eligible to receive a free PCR testing at participating locations if you are uneasy about the status of your health conditions due to having been in a situation where there was a high risk of infection, or if you fit under one of the two criterion and have proof: (1) be under the age of 10 years old or (2) be in contact with elderly people or those with underlying diseases. Some locations may require appointments via phone call beforehand, so please check to make sure before you visit the location. For more information, please check here. (Japanese)

If you are experiencing symptoms but have not confirmed whether you have COVID-19, please check this page for more detailed procedures and this list of participating locations offering free PCR tests. Please note that although the PCR tests may be free, you may be required to pay for the service, consultation, and prescriptions.

The prefectural government is also asking for all residents to cooperate with the following requests:

Practice basic infection control measures.

  • Wear a mask even if you have no or are not showing any signs of symptoms.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly, sanitize your hands often, and keep the space well ventilated.
  • If you feel like you may have a fever or cold-like symptoms, please contact a medical institute for consultation as soon as possible.
  • Avoid traveling across prefectures unless necessary.

② If you test positive for COVID-19, please stay calm and follow the proper procedures.

  • For symptomatic persons, please scan the QR code below.
  • For asymptomatic persons, please scan the QR code below.

③ Be cautious when gathering for social events like eating and drinking.

  • Practice the four safety measure steps when dining out. You can find out more about these steps by scanning the QR code below. (Japanese)
  • Dine only with those who you are already often around. (ie. family members)
  • Do not gather in large numbers.

④ (For shop and restaurant owners) Follow and maintain the infection control measure guidelines and checklists.

⑤ Events, regardless of whether held indoors or outdoors, should be limited to under 5000 people, and the number of participants should be 50% or under the capacity of the venue.

3. Guidelines for consulting with the Kumamoto Prefecture Consultation Center for COVID-19

If you experience any of the following symptoms, do not leave your home to go to work/school, and begin recording your temperature twice every day.

Phone the Kumamoto Prefecture Consultation Center for COVID-19 at 096-300-5909 (Available 24/7).

If you need English support, you can first request free multilingual phone interpreting for COVID-19 consultations at 092-687-7962 (Available 24/7).

The Consultation Center will...

  • Advise you if you are unsure whether you are experiencing symptoms
  • Provide information about COVID-19
  • Connect you to a public health center which can arrange for you to visit a medical center (outpatient clinic) to receive a test for COVID-19

Symptoms:

Elderly people or those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart failure or respiratory diseases (such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), or people taking immunosuppressants or undergoing cancer treatment should contact the center if they have even mild cold-like symptoms.

Anyone other than the people mentioned above should contact the consultation center if they experience persistent cold-like symptoms such as a fever, cough, heaviness in the chest, or a sudden and persistent sore throat.

If your symptoms persist for 4 or more days, please contact the center immediately. Symptoms can vary between people so if you believe you are suffering from strong symptoms, contact the consultation center. This also applies to those who have been taking fever-reducing medication.

Pregnant Women: Pregnant women who experience symptoms should contact their Returnee/Virus Contact Consultation Center as soon as possible.

People who have young children: Children who experience symptoms should see a pediatrician. Please contact the Returnee/ Virus Contact Consultation Center or your child’s usual medical clinic by phone.

【厚生労働省】 新型コロナウイルス感染症についての相談・受診の目
https://www.mhlw.go.jp/content/000628620.pdf

4. Spread of COVID-19 - Clusters and the Three Cs (3つの密)

(The following information is taken from the Akita Wiki here)

The primary method of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Japan is through the tracking and isolating of confirmed cases and suspect cases. By isolating these individuals, and by confirming the routes of transmission, Japanese authorities attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

  • Confirmed Case: someone who has positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test or an antigen test
  • Suspect Case: someone who has been in close contact (濃厚接触, nōkō sesshoku) with a confirmed case

A cluster refers to a situation where a single SARS-CoV-2 carrier spreads the virus to multiple people in the same setting in a short time span. The concept of clusters was initially brought to public attention when they were formed in live houses, sports clubs and eateries.

The concept of clusters eventually lead to the concept of the Three Cs, (3つの密 or 3密, mittsu no mitsu or sanmitsu in Japanese). Each of the Three Cs describes a situation or condition in which the spread of viruses is more probable. The presence of any one of these Three Cs increases the likelihood of virus transmission. However the probability of virus transmission is at its highest when the conditions of all Three Cs overlap in the same setting; it is these settings which must be avoided if the spread of COVID-19 is to be slowed.

The Three Cs are the following:

1. Closed spaces with poor ventilation (密閉空間; mippei kūkan)

Any place where the air inside stays inside. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Apartments
  • Rooms in a house
  • Offices
  • Theaters, clubs, restaurants, etc.

(The adverse effects of these places can be mitigated in part by keeping doors/windows open, running ventilators, etc.)

2. Crowded places with many people nearby (密集場所; misshū basho)

Any place with large numbers of people present. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Parks
  • Offices
  • Classrooms
  • Theaters, clubs, restaurants, etc.

(The adverse effects of these places can be mitigated in part by maintaining distance from others, etc.)

3. Close-contact settings such as close-range conversations (密接場面; missetsu bamen)

Any setting which two or more people are actively engaged with each other. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Conversations
  • Singing karaoke
  • Meetings
  • Classes
  • Meals (taken by 2 or more people)

(The adverse effects of these settings can be mitigated in part by wearing a facemask, not touching your face, not sharing objects, disinfecting those objects which you must share, etc.)

5. New Lifestyle Recommendations (新しい生活様式)

Despite the decrease in the numbers of new infections, it is still possible for the rate of infection to increase again. To prevent this, the national government is asking people to implement "New Lifestyle" (新しい生活様式, atarashii seikatsu yо̄shiki) measures in their daily lives.

About adapting to a “New Lifestyle” (PDF:83.7 キロバイト)

6. COVID-19 Contact Confirming Application (COCOA) 

The smartphone app developed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to help trace close contacts of people after they are confirmed to be infected has now been released. The app, when enabled, uses a smartphone’s Bluetooth capability to track “close contacts” (濃厚接触者 nо̄kо̄ sesshokusha), defined as being within 1 metre of another person for 15 minutes or longer. 

If a user of the app tests positive for COVID-19, they can voluntarily report it using the application using a special code. The app then sends a notification to all other users detected as “close contacts” from the preceding 2 week period. If you receive a notification saying you were in close contact, you can then report to a local health centre. In order to protect user privacy, specific information such as the location and time of contact will remain confidential. Personal information is not recorded or exchanged. Information is not stored in a central database, only locally on the phone. Records of bluetooth-contact with other devices with the application enabled are automatically deleted after 2 weeks.  

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare believes that the application will only be effective if the voluntary uptake in the general population is 60% or higher, and so is encouraging as many people as possible to download the app. You can download the application using the following links:

For iPhone: https://apps.apple.com/jp/app/id1516764458
For Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.go.mhlw.covid19radar

You can also search for ”接触確認アプリ” (sesshoku kakunin apuri) on your device.

 The application can be used in English and Japanese. 

Terms and Conditions of Use (English): (https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/english_rk_00031.html)

Privacy Policy (English): 
https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/english_pp_00032.html

7. External Links

Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) (自治体国際化協会)
CLAIR Multicultural Portal Site (COVID-19) - page with English information about COVID-19

Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme
CLAIR News Special Issues with information about coronavirus, uploaded on the JET website (English)
CLAIR News Special Issues (Japanese)

Kumamoto Prefecture
Kumamoto Prefecture Coronavirus Information Portal (Japanese)

Kumamoto Support Center for Foreign Residents - English Information Page

Kumamoto City
Kumamoto City Coronavirus Information Page (Japanese)

Kumamoto City Information on Application for Special Fixed Benefits (Japanese, English)

National Government Ministries:
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare - English Information Page

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - List of countries which have restrictions on Japanese nationals or people travelling from Japan:

General Information:
WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard

NHK World News (English)

NHK Coronavirus Data (Updated daily) (Japanese)

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) maintains a page with information targeted towards foreigners travelling in Japan, including a variety of helpful resources as well as a list of temporary attractions closures: https://www.japan.travel/en/news/coronavirus/

JAG Investment Management Co., Ltd. maintains a map of confirmed cases in Japan by prefecture (available in English)