The quarantine stations at international airports are full of temporary workers…the depths of the “anomaly” reported from the frontlines | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The quarantine stations at international airports are full of temporary workers…the depths of the “anomaly” reported from the frontlines

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Haneda Airport on December 1, when new arrivals were banned in principle in preparation for the spread of the Omicron Variant (Photo: Afro)

Two full years have passed since the outbreak of the coronary disease in January last year. With new mutant variants of “Omicron” beginning to be confirmed in the city, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has stressed that “we will continue to strengthen our waterfront measures.

However, the quarantine station is said to be experiencing “abnormalities” at the moment. This is due to the “advance” of a major personnel dispatch company. A person involved in quarantine, who protects Japan’s safety on a daily basis, gave me a surprising testimony that the number of temporary employees without qualifications as doctors or quarantine officers is increasing at the quarantine stations of international airports in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

In the case of the airport where I work, there are about 60 regular employees working at the quarantine station. However, since July last year, a total of about 60 temporary Pasona employees have been working 365 days a year. Now, dispatched workers from temporary employment agencies are very prominent in Japan’s quarantine system.

Mr. A, the person mentioned earlier, testified to this magazine. It is hard to believe, considering that quarantine stations are literally “bulwarks” that stop the influx of dangerous infectious diseases into the country, but Mr. A explained in detail.

According to Mr. A, there are always about 10 quarantine officers working in shifts at the terminals of international airports in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but since last year, about the same number of temporary employees have been working at the quarantine station.

Here’s how it happened. It was the New Year’s Eve of 2019 when an outbreak of a mysterious new type of pneumonia was reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. In Japan, the first domestic case of the disease (a Chinese man with a history of staying in Wuhan) was reported in Kanagawa Prefecture on January 16. Mr. A recalls, “It was chaos at the international airport at that time.

Mr. A recalls, “At that time, the international airport was in chaos. We had to conduct PCR tests on a large number of travelers arriving from overseas, and we received support from the Self-Defense Forces’ medical team, but we were absolutely short of personnel.

In July last year, an antigen test was introduced in place of the PCR test in order to test a large number of people in a short period of time. It was around that time that the airport began accepting temporary staff from Pasona Group.

Mr. A acknowledges the effectiveness of the system, saying, “In fact, there were many excellent personnel, and it was a great help to us as we were in dire need of manpower. Many of the dispatched personnel were from the tourism industry, which was struggling at the time. “It was also very helpful to be able to communicate with foreign tourists in English,” he said.

To become a quarantine officer, you need to pass a civil service examination or have qualifications as a doctor or nurse.

On the other hand, in an emergency situation such as a corona disaster, temporary and other non-regular employees are hired at the discretion of each domestic airport, and in many cases they are in charge not only of guiding foreign passengers, but also of assisting with saliva tests and monitoring thermal cameras as they pass through quarantine.

However, Mr. A began to have strong doubts about the changes surrounding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer: around July, one month before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics in August, the entry of athletes and other Games officials began. It is said that the number of dispatched workers far exceeded the number of staff at the quarantine station, as dispatched workers from staffing agencies other than Pasona Group were also brought in at this time. At the same time, the quarantine station staff who had come to support the station from the local international airports, which were closed, were no longer present.

Furthermore, the number of temporary workers, which had begun to increase during the Olympic Games, had reached its peak.

The number of dispatched workers, which had started to increase during the Olympics, reached its peak. “We help passengers install apps on their smartphones, but there were obviously too many of them, and half of them had no work to do and were sitting on sofas and other places in the airport during the day.

The temporary workers from several staffing agencies have continued to work since then, and the overall number of temporary workers in quarantine at this airport terminal still exceeds the number of regular employees.

The number of temporary workers at the airport terminal quarantine now exceeds the number of regular employees. However, once the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are over and the pandemic is over, they will be ‘useless. To put it crudely, they will become ‘disposable.

A scene from quarantine at Narita Airport (Photo: Afro)

There is also a more serious concern. Due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the airport has come to accept and rely heavily on temporary staff. However, according to Mr. A, quarantine infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are actually entering the country, albeit in small numbers, and there is no reason to remain vigilant against dangerous infections such as Ebola.

The quarantine officers have been doing their job as professionals, but due to the human reasons for the corona disaster, the quarantine officers have been shifted to temporary staff. However, this will lead to the weakening of Japan’s quarantine system. The number of people entering the country varies from one to another. Even if it is only one person out of 10,000, there are cases in quarantine where the domestic influx must be prevented. As a corona testing center, it does not mean that we should specialize in checking for coronas.

There are currently about 1,000 quarantine officers working at quarantine stations in Japan, including those who inspect imported food products, at international airports and ports. As far as airports are concerned, entry from abroad has been limited to five international airports since last year: Narita and Haneda in Tokyo, Chubu in Nagoya, Kansai in Osaka, and Fukuoka. However, Mr. A explained that the quarantine stations at all the international airports would be in almost the same situation of being short of manpower.

While the government is forcing people to refrain from activities, about 235,000 foreigners entered Japan between April and December last year. While the government has been forcing people to refrain from activities, about 235,500 foreigners entered Japan between April and December last year. In particular, since the Kan administration took office in September of last year, the number of foreigners entering Japan has decreased from the 4,000 level per month to 7,000 in January and December. In particular, since the Kan administration took office in September of the same year, the number of foreigners entering the country, which had been decreasing to around 4,000 per month, increased dramatically to around 70,000 in January and December. There were growing doubts about the laxity of the waterfront measures. A Liberal Democratic Party official testified, “At the time, there were many voices within the party calling for the strengthening of the waterfront, but they were drowned out by the opinions of some who strongly demanded the entry of foreign workers and others.

Mr. A mentioned above also said, “The government did not cast a wide net from the beginning, and only introduced measures one after another. It was reactive and always on the back foot. The quarantine system, which has been swamped by the recent coronas, cannot be called a true quarantine system,” he said angrily. I appreciate the fact that Prime Minister Kishida, who took over the government from Mr. Kan, decided at an early stage to impose a total ban on the entry of foreigners to Japan to prevent the spread of the Omicron virus, but I do not hide my distrust.

In the past, passengers had to self-report their physical condition before entering the country, which was based on the typical Japanese good-nature theory. The question is whether the government has the will to seriously implement quarantine, including the issue of temporary workers. Last year, Taiwan’s waterfront measures were praised around the world, but something like that could be done in Japan as well.

How will Mr. Kishida, who became prime minister by appealing to his ability to listen to people, respond to the earnest appeal from the quarantine field?

Haneda Airport in August, during the rush to enter the country for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Since then, the number of temporary workers at the quarantine site has become conspicuous (Photo: Kyodo News)
Paper bags containing PCR test kits lined up in the international arrival lobby of Haneda Airport on December 28. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has begun to distribute them free of charge to people entering the country to encourage them to take the test during the waiting period, but I wonder how effective this will be (Photo: Kyodo News)

Photo Gallery4 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles