The “Critical Difference” between the U.K. and Japan, which have returned to normalcy from the coronas. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The “Critical Difference” between the U.K. and Japan, which have returned to normalcy from the coronas.

Interview with a medical student studying at the University of Edinburgh

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“What does Japan want?” They say…

“‘Where are you going next weekend?

Conversations like the above are commonplace in the United Kingdom. In Europe, it is possible to travel to other European countries for less than 10,000 yen each way using low-cost airlines, and many international students enjoy weekend trips abroad. This is a feature not seen in the previous semester (September-December), when Delta strains were prevalent.”

This is a contribution by Yudai Kaneda, a fourth-year medical student at Hokkaido University who is currently studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh, to a newsletter published by the Society for Healthcare Governance titled “The Status of Omicron Stocks in Edinburgh.

Just reading the first sentence of the article, one is astonished at the difference from the current situation in Japan, but why are the measures against coronas so relaxed in the UK? We conducted a remote interview with Mr. Kaneda, who lives in Edinburgh.

I came to study at the University of Edinburgh in October of last year, and from the very beginning I could feel a big difference.

I had to take a PCR test on the second day of my arrival in Japan and submit the specimen to a nearby post office. In Japan, you are first quarantined in a hotel upon returning to your home country, but here, people who might test positive for corona are allowed to go outside before the results are released, and they are told to do it on their own.

Outside, at least no one is wearing a mask, and on weekends, my classmates around me are going out to clubs and other places and messing around. To be honest, I myself was very worried.

I live in a university dormitory, and I even had a few fights with the people I live with, asking them not to do anything in the dorm because it would be very difficult to get a positive reaction from them.

But the students around us were like, ‘We won’t be at great risk if we get infected. People over here don’t seem to have the sense that if they have corona, they might pass it on to others. There have even been stories of people who have gotten infected at dormitory parties.”

On February 21, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the removal of all legal restrictions on measures to combat the new coronavirus. Quarantine measures were subsequently abolished on February 24, and large-scale testing was to last until April 1 (Photo: Afro).
Kaneda is a medical student studying at the University of Edinburgh. I wear a proper mask,” he says. The building of the University of Edinburgh (Old College) is in the background.

Differences in Perceptions of Corona

The perception of corona is different to begin with, and students talk to each other about how they can prevent serious illness, based on the assumption that they will get it, such as “I tested positive for corona the other week, so I think I’m fine now,” he said.

As of February 12, when the number of newly infected people in Japan was over 80,000 nationwide, Scotland had about 5,500, and the UK as a whole had about 45,000. He said that the number of deaths had dropped from a peak of about 900 a day to about 200 a day. Is it because I am Japanese that I think even 200 deaths per day is a lot?

Scottish Prime Minister Sturgeon was aware that as of the first week of January, we had peaked out and the number of deaths was down to about 200 a day.

I think the fact that there are measures to reduce the risk of serious illness even if people are infected, because the booster vaccine is available without appointment, in various public places, and free of charge, has also contributed to the easing of the situation.

In addition, in the United Kingdom as a whole, there is a full range of services such as medicine delivery, psychological counseling, and subsidies for quarantine at the time of infection, whereas in Japan, as symbolized by the phrase, “Please refrain from going out when not necessary,” there is an impression that the person who contracts the disease is responsible for his or her own actions. “

Popular bars are packed, and many people even wait in line outside to have a drink,” said Mr. Kanada (photo provided by Mr. Kanada).
A scene from the streets of Edinburgh, photographed recently. Very few people wear masks (photo provided by Mr. Kanada).

Policy feedback and subsidies for quarantine periods

He also divulges that what he feels makes a big difference is the nature of politics.

What I thought was great about the U.K. is that they give proper feedback on the policies they have implemented.

At first, the government said that ‘coronas can be treated just like the common cold,’ but they later analyzed the results and used it as national feedback for the next measures. As a result, booster vaccinations and PCR tests are now readily available free of charge without any troublesome procedures.

But I don’t get any feedback from the government that this was effective in Japan, or that this was a mistake.

I don’t know what the basis is for the recommendation by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to vaccinate after a period of eight months, and as for the entry of foreign travelers, it is ad hoc and not scientific at all, like saying that quarantine is only three days for people for business purposes.”

Another major difference is when a person is found to be positive.

In Japan, if you contract corona, you have to take time off from work or cannot work part-time, but there is not enough support, and I think there is a big barrier to announcing that you are infected. People around you are also very strict.

In the U.K., however, it is considered “natural” to be infected, and when you are found to be positive, the National Health Service (NHS) will ask you to be quarantined for 10 days, but if you apply for a subsidy of about 500 pounds. At the current rate, I get about 75,000 yen, so I am not put in that tight a spot.

The university will also give us a grant of 50 pounds for the approximately two days of self-isolation required before the test is positive, and food for the duration of the self-isolation.

In fact, I feel that the psychological barrier to getting corona is so low at the university that it is quite common for a professor or tutor to have to cancel classes for the rest of the week because he or she has had corona. I believe that the low psychological barriers created by such a well-developed support system for infected people is a major factor leading to the trend of easing quarantine and other measures.

Even more shocking is the suggestion that there are differences in national character.

Frankly speaking, I think the national character is a big factor. Even if you can offer 500 pounds, not everyone here applies for it.

It was very surprising to me, but a large percentage of people refuse, saying, ‘There are people who are in more need. Those who are relatively well off, such as the students at the University of Edinburgh, decline the grant, saying, “I can get by without it.

In Japan, I think many people would take the grant if they could, but I feel that this is a way of thinking rooted in the British part of education.

It is a point that is quite painful to hear.

Incidentally, the current situation in Japan, where graduate students are forced to engage in coronary care without employment contracts or workers’ compensation, has been called into question. ……

In the U.K., on the contrary, medical students and others who want to volunteer at hospitals are allowed to participate, saying, ‘This is the only time you can gain this kind of experience. Of course, only those who want to participate can do so.”

PCR testing is always available free of charge at the university library (photo courtesy of Ms. Kanada).
A bus comes to the university to administer the booster vaccine without an appointment,” Kanada said (photo provided by Kanada).

Japan’s corona control measures are pushing people who have been infected with the disease to take responsibility for their own actions…

How does Mr. Kanada, who lives in the U.K., see Japan today?

Personally, I am concerned about the fact that Japan is not working scientifically, and that it is pushing those who have been infected into a self-accusation.

For example, if you have been infected with corona, you can usually enter any country if you submit a ‘certificate of recovery’ because you may test positive in a PCR test for 90 days after recovery.

But if I try to go back to Japan now, I have to submit a negative certificate of PCR conducted within 72 hours to enter the country, and since Japan does not recognize the certificate of recovery, I may not be able to enter the country for 90 days even if I recover.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) says on its website that “entry into Japan may be permitted in cases where it is truly unavoidable,” but I wonder what they mean by “truly unavoidable.

I think Japan’s policy is to reduce risk as much as possible, and that is not a bad thing, but infectious diseases can strike no matter how careful you are, and I think it is strange to dismiss them as the sole responsibility of the person who contracted them.

Incidentally, how do people in other countries view Japan’s corona measures?

What does Japan want? They say, “What does Japan want? I tell them that Japan has been closed off from the rest of the world once before, so they are used to it (laughs).

(Laughs.) Even in the same island nation, people come and go more frequently in the U.K., so it is totally different.

It would be best if there was a global consensus, but unfortunately the situation is totally different from country to country, so I would like to see Japan pay more attention to support for those who have contracted coronas.

  • Interview and text Wakako Tago

    Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, became a freelance writer. In addition to interviewing actors and others for weekly and monthly magazines, she writes drama columns for a variety of media. His main publications include "All Important Things Are Taught by Morning Drama" (Ota Publishing), "KinKiKids: Owarinaki Michi" and "Hey!Say!JUMP: When 9 Tobira Open" (both from Earls Publishing).

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