Of course, the incubation period of the virus seems to range from a day up to nine days, so a week-long break might really be too short to break the chain of transmission. Besides, it's high-school students we're talking about here; compulsive socializers, with a primal urge to see each other at any cost. The kind of people that would meet up during a hurricane just to show each other how cool and unimpressed they are. What are the chances that they simply meet each other out on the town instead, rendering the school closings ineffective? And true enough, the Osaka evening news featured a broadcast from Amerikamura where large numbers of middle- and high-school students have gathered today to celebrate a few days off school.
Street corner in Amerikamura, just a few minutes from Namba in Osaka:1. The whole area is full of fashion shops of the more embarrassingly juvenile kind - faux-reggae clothes, belt buckles with skulls, t-shirts with pot leaf patterns, that kind of stuff. Teens are drawn to the place like moths to a flame.
Day care centers are also closing. Which impacts young mothers that work part- or full-time. They can no longer go to work since they need to stay home with their kid. According to a television report this morning, many such young parents gather at each others home. That way the kids have friends to play with, and the parents can help each other out so some can go grocery shopping (or even go to work part time) while the others watch the children.
Great idea - except that it defeats the whole purpose of closing the day care centers in the first place. And instead of having the kids watched by trained nursery staff that knows to look for early signs of infection and knows what to do if they see it, you have parents that of course really have little clue about what to do.
To their credit, a number of people have begun speaking up about this current hysteria, and some of the media is giving them a voice. Some doctors have rightly pointed out that many of the current measures don't really work. All they do is disrupt people's lives and incite panic. Our Fearless Leader, Osaka Governor Hashimoto (who seems to be putting on some weight; might want to go easy on the takoyaki there) has called for a step-down on the pandemic response and start treating it more like a normal flu outbreak. The radical measures are out of proportion to the current severity and spread of the disease. This is already happening to some extent. For instance, Osaka city now disregards the guidelines for a pandemic that requires infected people to be treated at hospitals. As most current cases are very mild, people are allowed to recuperate at home if they wish. This alleviates the pressure on the health care system and it's more comfortable for the patient.
So cooler heads may indeed prevail. But this is a country that will panic over the most trivial health issue, so I fully expect the whole nation to have a field day with this over the next month or so.
#1 If this blog were an actual news outlet I'd have to point out that this is archive footage, not taken today. But it isn't so I won't.