Thinking Citizen Blog — How Japan Beat Coronavirus Without Lockdowns” — retrospective tracing and the three Cs

Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care and Global Health Policy Day

Today’s Topic — “How Japan Beat Coronavirus Without Lockdowns” — retrospective tracing and the three Cs

With an elderly, densely packed population, you might have expected Japan to be particularly hard hit by Covid-19. Not so. Without a lockdown. How did they do it? A special herd immunity? The hundred-year-old tradition of mask-wearing whenever you have a cold or cough? Or was it, as the Japanese Minister in charge of Covid-19, Yasutoshi Nishimura, explains a policy focused on “retrospective tracing and the “three Cs”? “Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

COVID DEATHS PER 100,000 POP (as of 6/30)

1. US: 36.3

2. UK: 65.7

3. Japan: .8

NB: South Korea .6

“RETROSPECTIVE TRACING” — focus on finding the super-spreaders

1. “This approach differs from standard methods that focus mainly on the period after a patient contracted the disease.” (Nishimura, first link)

2. “With retrospective tracing, health workers try to ascertain a patient’s movements and interactions before they became infected.”

3. “By mapping them and cross-referencing them with those of other infected people, tracers can identify common sources of infection — the people and places behind an infection cluster.”

NB: “The core insight that has helped us in our fight against Covid-19 is the notion of transmission clusters. Early on, our health experts noticed that the disease spreads in a peculiar way. Although the coronavirus is highly contagious, it is not uniformly contagious. Most who are infected by it — about 80% — never pass it on to anyone else. The bulk of infections can be traced to a small number of “super-spreading events.”

Just as striking, a person with mild symptoms, or even none at all, could easily cause a super-spreading event, or a cluster. Because Covid-19 is a disease that spreads along relatively small numbers of super-spreading transmission chains, if you can isolate these chains or prevent them from forming, transmission of the virus isn’t sustainable.”

AVOIDING THE 3 C’S CAMPAIGN — and a population that complies without mandates

1. Closed spaces

2. Crowded places

3. Close contact settings — “especially those involving loud talking”

NB: Nishimura also credits Japan’s “Digital New Deal” — which “has made working from home easier by aggressively promoting telework technology, freeing people from Tokyo’s packed commuter trains.”

QUESTION: How does Japan’s “retrospective tracing” differ, if at all, from the contact tracing in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and China?

Opinion | How Japan Beat Coronavirus Without Lockdowns

The puzzle of Japan’s low virus death rate


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This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.

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