Dramatic Tokyo Coronavirus Spike Parallels Scary New York Outbreak

Since late March, scientists warned that Japan is likely to be the next coronavirus pandemic hotspot after the U.S., with Tokyo its epicenter.

  • Doctor warns that Tokyo is like New York three weeks ago, as coronavirus fear intensifies.
  • Tokyo governor confirmed over 100 new cases on Sunday, which indicates that the curve of the virus has not flattened.
  • U.S. embassy in Tokyo asked all U.S. citizens to leave the city, despite the U.S. having 367,000 cases.

Since late March, scientists warned that Japan is likely to be the next hot spot of coronavirus after the U.S. On April 4, Tokyo recorded more than 100 confirmed cases on a single day for the first time as governments across the globe scramble to move their citizens outside of Tokyo.

Japan has taken a rather lax approach towards testing and other precautionary measures to combat coronavirus than other countries in Asia in the likes of Singapore, China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The concerns of scientists regarding the worsening coronavirus epidemic in Tokyo reached to a point in which the U.S. embassy in Tokyo issued a statement to all U.S. citizens to move back to the U.S. as soon as possible, despite the U.S. having more than 367,000 cases.

“Escape from Tokyo” trends on social media amidst new coronavirus epidemic fear | Source: Vincent Lee

It sparks fear of a second wave of coronavirus

Technically, Japan would not be seeing its second have of coronavirus given that it has only confirmed 3,900 coronavirus cases in the country.

Japan still only has 3,900 confirmed coronavirus cases (source: worldometers.info)

The culture of using masks in Japan has allowed the country to see fewer coronavirus cases without strong measures including lockdown and forced quarantine.

The fear towards Tokyo is that unlike the rest of Asia, Japan has not implemented a strict and comprehensive testing system to ensure coronavirus-infected patients are self-isolating to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Simply put, similar to New York, there exists a strong possibility that many individuals in Japan are already infected with coronavirus, but the lack of testing has made it difficult to spot infected individuals.

Shimada Yumichi, a doctor working in New York, warned that Tokyo is seeming like New York three weeks ago when new coronavirus cases were just starting to be reported.

The main problem with Tokyo, according to Yumichi, is that residents are showing signs of letting their guard down against coronavirus as Japan has seen a relatively small number of cases.

But, the doctor emphasized that the reluctance of the general population in New York to take necessary safety precautions in early March such as wearing masks and avoiding crowded places ultimately caused the virus outbreak in the state to reach the current point.

18 doctors infected with coronavirus after breaking rules | Source: Mainichi Shinbum

Tokyo remains vulnerable to a New York-esque outbreak in the near-term, especially if the government does not impose similar precautions as countries that have seen the peak of coronavirus.

So far, nations that have taken the approach of letting everyone get infected by coronavirus to develop immunity such as the U.K. have not seen the results they originally envisioned.

Medical centers and staff are being overloaded across Europe and the U.S., which make it challenging for patients to receive treatment.

Not too late for Japan

Japan could still impose some level of lockdown or strict precautionary measures, especially in Japan, to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Recent data has shown that the approach of the U.K., Sweden, and several other countries have not been as successful as Taiwan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Vietnam, and others that relied on a strict testing and self-isolation system since February.

Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:48 PM

Joseph Young

Financial analyst based in Seoul, South Korea. Contributing regularly to CCN and Forbes. I have covered the stock market and bitcoin since 2013. Reach him on Twitter or LinkedIn.