Chinese society willing to offer COVID-19 combat insights to Japan

By Xu Keyue, Wan Lin and Sun Haoran Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/17 0:08:39

Joint fight against virus to promote bilateral relations: expert

Relatives of passengers wave towards the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to the novel coronavirus, as the ship departs from the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, Japan, on Tuesday to dump waste water and generate potable water. Photo: AFP

China is willing to support Japan and share experiences of the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak as confirmed infections in Japan surge, Chinese experts and netizens said, noting that the two countries' collaboration to win the battle will be mutually beneficial and help enhance the bilateral relationship.

A total of 413 people in Japan have been confirmed to have infected with the virus, accounting for more than half of cases outside China, data showed.  .

Most of the infections in Japan were found on a quarantined ship, the Diamond Princess, which has 3,711 passengers and staff on board and arrived at the port of Yokohama in Japan on February 3.

Another 70 people on the ship were tested positive for the COVID-19 on Sunday, which broke daily records, bringing the total number to 355, nearly 10 percent of the total on board, according to the announcement by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on Sunday. 

The ship has been kept in quarantine after a passenger on board from Hong Kong was found to be infected with the virus. 

Chinese netizens said that they are willing to support Japan and work together to overcome the virus. "I'm finding ways to donate medical masks to passengers who are in quarantine on the ship," read a typical online comment.  

The fact that the large number of infections on the ship and the unclear infection route reported in Japan triggered fears among the Japanese public.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said at Saturday's press conference that several cases apart from those on the ship were found to have no direct contact with persons from China.

"Japan seems to have entered a new phase where the infection route of several new cases is unclear," said Kato, vowing to discuss ways to contain the viral spread, Japan's NHK reported 

Aside from the 355 confirmed case of COVID2019 infection on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, there are only dozens of confirmed cases in Japan, which has attracted high attention of the Japanese government, media and medical institutions, Marukawa Tomoo, a professor from the Institute of Social Science of the University of Tokyo, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Therefore, there may not be a large-scale outbreak in Japan, said Marukawa, but what worries him the most is formalism that would lead to the government's failure to adjust its response measures in time.

Despite the differences between China and Japan, China has accumulated valuable data, experience and even painful lessons in the fight against the virus outbreak, which will be helpful to Japan in case of an outbreak, he noted.

The unclear infection route makes it very urgent for medical workers to develop vaccines and more simplified testing methods for suspected cases, Gao Hong, an expert at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS), told the Global Times.

A senior adviser of the World Health Organization was quoted by Japan's Kyodo News saying the epidemic in Japan is worrisome while epidemic control in Hubei is something promising.

The reports triggered widespread concerns with many worrying the virus could break out in Japan.

Some Japanese netizens criticized their government for lack of foresight regarding the crisis and failure to inform the public and not adequately updating information on the virus, which escalates fears.

A British resident surnamed Singh who lives in Hanyu, Japan told the Global Times on Sunday that he has seen less coverage on the infections on the Diamond Princess than in the Western media.  There is "minimal coverage" on the virus in Japan, he said.

Although people attend work as usual, they are advised to wear a mask, he noted.

However, Japanese residents in contact with the Global Times said they have seen many people with no masks. And some said masks were out of stock as the masks were sent to support China.

A resident surnamed Takahashi in Tokyo told the Global Times that he was worried the epidemic would spread during the upcoming Sakura cherry blossom flower viewing season, which normally falls in March and April, and even potentially affect the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which will begin in July, as crowds would gather along the roads.

"I cannot rule out the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak or it even becoming out of control in Japan," Yoshikazu Kato, a Japanese adjunct associate professor of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong, told the Global Times.

"Japan and China have been cooperating in disease prevention," he said. "Current China-Japan relations are developing on a positive and healthy track, so the two governments should make full use of the good atmosphere of current bilateral ties, actively collaborate in sharing knowledge, information and experience to ensure the transparency and timely exchanges."

China can provide rich experience in battling the virus, including pathogenic analysis, drug development and control measures at all levels of government, and provide prevention materials when China gradually gets back on track producing prevention equipment,  Yang Bojiang, vice chief of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the CASS, told the Global Times.

Medical experts from the two countries have cooperated on virus sample detection and vaccine research and development, Gao said.

 "The epidemic tests the ability of both Chinese and Japanese governments to deal with the crisis, but I don't think the outbreak will affect fundamental parts of China-Japan relations in the long run," stated Kato, stressing that exchanges and cooperation will always be mainstream regarding their future ties.

Newspaper headline: China willing to offer viral insights to Japan

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