When you have to politely refuse something, you try to do it in a roundabout way.
If you decline someone’s request, for example, you might say something like, “I’m afraid I can’t be of any help to you right now.
“Let’s stay friends” is a classic response when someone you’re not interested in asks you out on a date.
Now, how do you say “No” to people who want to go to the hospital because they think they have contracted COVID-19?
A new Department of Health directive issued to local governments says to tell people under the age of 40 or those who are not at risk of developing severe symptoms: “It is possible for you to recover at home without being seen by a doctor”.
But I think this sentence is addressed to all of us, because I understand that it was designed in anticipation of the saturation of outpatient services in hospitals.
The word “possible” implies a choice, but I’m pretty sure there are no other options in this case.
The guideline assumes everyone uses a COVID-19 test kit to self-diagnose and report the result to relevant agencies while staying at home.
Until now, we were strongly advised to be seen by a doctor and tested for COVID-19, the purpose of which was to contain the spread of infections. And in the meantime, public health centers have been tracking the movements of infected people as well as close contacts, urging them not to go outside.
But such an “active epidemiological investigation” has failed, and the situation that is beginning to unfold now is one in which COVID-19 is being treated passively, as if it were just a common cold.
It is natural to adjust the response measurements according to the peculiarities of the Omicron variant.
But shouldn’t we now learn from European and American experiences and consider shortening the isolation period for infected people, as well as the self-quarantine period for close contacts? That would make more sense than just letting the situation drag on by treating COVID-19 like a cold.
Ultimately, whether it’s telling people to recover at home or reducing the number of days spent in isolation or quarantine, it’s all contingent on testing for COVID-19. But what improvement has been made to address the shortcomings of current testing capabilities?
All I’m starting to hear about now is a dismal shortage of test kits.
–The Asahi Shimbun, January 26
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics, including culture, the arts, and social trends and developments. Written by veteran writers from Asahi Shimbun, the column offers helpful perspectives and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.