What Pakistan can learn from Japan’s handling of the coronavirus

Testing Is Key to Beating Coronavirus, Right? Japan Has Other Ideas

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An illustration in Tokyo of a swab test for COVID-19. [Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images]
The World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, on Monday called Japan’s efforts in combatting the coronavirus a “success.” The country has managed to greatly reduce the spread of infections and contained the number of deaths at a relatively low level.

It must be noted that Japan has the world’s oldest population, which lives in a densely populated area, and is one of the favorite tourist destinations for the Chinese. Conditions seemed to be ripe for a significant outbreak of the coronavirus in Japan when the pandemic first arrived on its shores in January. However, the outburst never happened.

The Kabukicho district (Tokyo) on Monday as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he was lifting a state of emergency. [Kimimasa Mayama/EPA, via Shutterstock]
While the Western countries were repeating the mantra: “test, test, test,” Japan went its own way and adopted other measures to combat the coronavirus successfully. As chaotic and dissimilar Pakistan is to Japan, it can still reduce its own cases by following some of the measures implemented by Japan.

One of the most essential factors in containing the outbreak is the attitude, approach, and lifestyle changes by Japanese society, which is known for its discipline and high-quality work ethics. Wearing masks is already common. Any appeal from the Japanese Government was met with dedicated compliance.

Enjoying the cherry blossoms at Ueno Park (Tokyo) on Thursday. [Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times]
Japan did announce a state of emergency in few divisions initially and later all over Japan, but there were no legal means to enforce that. Public transport and many other services continued in typical fashion.

There were no fines or punishments involved in non-compliance. Instead of dictating strict controls on daily life, the Japanese Government focused on educating people regarding measures like social distancing and gently prompting them to follow along.

Social distancing at a bank in Tokyo. [Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times]
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, most people rejected that the coronavirus even exists, and others started indulging themselves in conspiracy theories. There were zero to little lifestyle changes by Pakistanis, and the governmental response was haphazard.

Political parties used the coronavirus to bash each other and score political goals. Sindh Police even started beating the people with sticks just to enforce the lockdown. All this for what?

Police punishing people for violating the lockdown in Karachi. [DAWN]
Police officers restrict a rickshaw driver defying the nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Hyderabad [AP Photo/Pervez Masih]
There were other measures as well that aided Japan in battling the coronavirus. However, if Pakistan only implements one Japanese rule, notably lifestyle changes and compliance, then it can be speculated that the coronavirus cases in Pakistan can decrease in the future.

Are we ready to make the changes?

Japan declares success in relaxed restrictions

Japan has lifted its state of emergency on the last remaining areas hit by the coronavirus. https://reut.rs/2TB2MOY

Posted by Reuters UK on Monday, May 25, 2020

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