Letter: Closed Spaces, Crowded Places, and Close Contact Settings


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The US has over 135k pandemic deaths. Japan has around 40% the population of the US and (with a similar death rate) should have over 50k deaths. Instead Japan has only about 1k deaths. Why is the death rate in Japan only a small fraction (about 2%) of the US death rate??? 


Japan did not do widespread testing as South Korea did (Japan tested only about 0.2% of the population). Japan did not use surveillance technology like China and Singapore. Over 26% of Japanโ€™s population is at risk (over 65) yet very very few Japanese got sick – and now life is returning to normal in Japan: this week Japan declared itโ€™s state of emergency to be over. What kind of magic did Japan do to be so very successful???ย 


Japan did not tell people to maintain a 6โ€™ distance. Japan did not enforce shutdowns or social-distancing orders. Instead (see the English language Japan government posters below) the government told people WHAT TO AVOID – avoid the three โ€œCโ€™sโ€: closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings. The government told people HOW to wash hands properly, cough safely, ride a train safely, be at work/school safely. 


The Japanese people remained disciplined and the great majority followed the instructions. 


The government also told people to WEAR MASKS. Unlike in the US, it is common in many Asian cultures and in Japan for people to wear masks when they think they might be contagious — so putting on a mask was no big deal in Japan.ย 


Now, all of Japan is about to get their lives back and here in the good oleโ€™ US well, there is no end in sight.ย 


David Collins
Old Lyme