New Corona reporter saw! 16:14 on April 9

Infected Prime Minister Johnson and Prince Charles have killed more than 7,000 people so far.
The United Kingdom is now one of the world's most severely affected countries by the onslaught of the new coronavirus. I returned last week from a country where the infection was increasingly widespread.

By the way, the day was April 3, when the Japanese government started taking measures at the border to prevent further transmission from outside the country. I would like to report on how Japan's border measures for returnees are now based on their own experiences. (Kohei Tsuji, Reporter, International Affairs Department)

Know the measures are strengthened before returning to Japan

"... Wow"

On the bus to Heathrow Airport in London. I saw news on strengthening Japan's border measures on my mobile phone.

The Japanese government has announced that people returning from 73 countries and regions, including the United Kingdom, will be screened for virus, regardless of their symptoms, and that all returnees will be required to wait two weeks at home, etc. .

I had been working as a visiting researcher at a British university since last year to study the state of the media, but the spread of infection in the UK has not stopped, and I was trying to return home earlier.

International airport with only 5 flights

There was no silhouette at the airport where we arrived.

Normally, only 5 flights are guided on the monitor that displays the departure flight on the entire screen. Most flights had been canceled due to the ban on travel and immigration of each country due to the spread of the infection.

It was a sight that could not be considered a gateway to the UK where an average of 1,300 flights a day arrive and depart.

33 passengers to Tokyo

Things are tense in Britain.

Going out of the minimum, such as exercising and buying food, is strictly restricted, and only the grocery stores and pharmacies, which are essential for daily life, are open.

I often saw people using tissues and handkerchiefs to avoid direct contact when touching the doorknob.

Only 33 passengers boarded flights to Tokyo. I was worried about the situation in the cabin that was traveling for a long time in one space, but the empty cabin that spread out in front of me showed the seriousness of the situation.

Quarantine documents

After taking off, the crew, wearing masks and gloves, will hand over quarantine documents.

4 sheets of A4 paper. Write down details of symptoms such as cough and sore throat and how to return home from the airport.

They were also asked if they were in countries and regions that the government determined to be at high risk. The UK should be a target country, but it wasn't on paper. He told me that the target country changed immediately, so some changes in documents were not catching up. It seems to symbolize the rapidly changing situation every day.

2 days to the result

I arrived at Haneda Airport at 2:30 pm on April 3, Japan time.

When I got off the plane, I was led to a temporary virus test site.

In front of the booth, people dressed in full-body protective clothing stood. A camouflage suit and black boots look down from below. He is a SDF medical officer.

When I sat on the chair, a cotton swab was placed in my nose and my mucus was collected. It took less than a minute.

"It's surprisingly quick."

He thought the results would come out soon, and said the results would be available two days later. In the meantime, they can wait for the result at home, but it is said that those who stay at the hotel without returning home need to wait at the airport, which caused a roar between passengers. After thinking of a 12-hour flight, I thought it was a two-day stay in the airport lobby, and it turned out.

The hotel official said, "Hotels will not be able to accept potentially positive returnees."

Unexpectedly, there were 12 people, including me, who did not return home immediately. I am one of those cases, such as when a family member has a medical condition or the elderly. He gave up, but an hour later the policy was announced and the government prepared a hotel, so he was immediately informed that he would take a bus.

Inside the SDF bus, seats were set up to separate the airflow between the driver's seat and the seat where we sat.

Minimal contact

The lobby of the hotel was crowded with staff from quarantine stations who came from all over the country, including Hokkaido and Fukuoka Prefecture.

Working with returnees from countries at high risk of infection is next to danger. I feel grateful.

At the hotel, all check-in procedures were omitted to minimize contact with us. The room is about 20 square meters. You are not allowed to leave the room until a result is obtained.

Meals on the doorknob

At 8:00 the next morning, a broadcast on the hall was heard to show that breakfast was distributed.

When I opened the door, a plastic bag filled with water from my lunch box and plastic bottle was hanging on the doorknob. This is also to avoid contact. Five meals were provided in two days. The hotel and lunch are paid by the government. It was covered by taxes.

"Japan is a wonderful country"

While eating breakfast, a message came from a Russian friend who was studying at the same university.

She returned to Russia the same day and had to be quarantined in government-managed accommodation.

The message was accompanied by photos of the room and the meal. Shared room with multiple people in a simple facility. He says he is concerned about infection.

He said that he had little access to the net, was not allowed to leave the room, and was locked from outside the room.

Explaining Japan's response, I was disappointed but sent a photo and she replied, "Japan is a wonderful country."

"BC" and "AC"

I did not do it in the room and had a cast.

While checking the news online, I noticed an article by Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the leading American newspaper The New York Times. He pointed out that the world had completely changed with "BC" and "AC".

"BC" (Before Christ) is short for "BC" in world history textbooks, but Friedman paraphrases "Before Corona" and "After Corona". He discussed the major changes that had taken place.

He pointed out that the social changes brought about by unknown infectious diseases that could not have been imagined are so great that even if the virus threat goes away, the world will not be completely restored.

A negative is not the end

At 8:30 am on April 5, the room phone rings.

From the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare staff. The test was reported negative. Finally, I was relieved to get out of the hotel, but a negative test result did not end. Two weeks of quarantine is still required, as there may still be a virus in the body.

I moved to a hotel in Tokyo where I originally arranged and am now writing a manuscript from that room.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were over 4,000 Japanese who wished to return home due to suspension of air flights, but could not return. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, if the number of returnees increases in the future, the hotel cannot be secured and the possibility of being detained at the airport cannot be denied as in my case for two days until the test results are obtained.

While the situation is changing rapidly, the responses I have experienced may not be continued in the future, but I hope that it will be helpful to those who are considering returning to Japan.

International Affairs Reporter Kohei Tsuji
Joined in 2002, correspondent in Jerusalem, Ministry of Politics,
After working as a visiting researcher at Oxford University in the UK, the International Department