How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad

Last updated April 27, 2020.

How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad

Coming off the high of my trip to Bali in December, I didn’t know that just a month later Japan would go into near-lock down due to a new virus spreading from Asia to the rest of the world. Seemingly borne out of the imaginative minds that created movies like “Contagion” (I just watched this again and the Coronavirus is eerily similar to the virus in the movie), the Coronavirus is unfortunately a very real virus and disease affecting thousands of infected lives and millions of secondary lives as countries struggle to contain and prevent further spread of the virus. 

Many people have asked me to shed some light on the situation in Japan and whether they should cancel their plans to Japan or push forward, and even more of my friends living in Japan have had to cancel overseas trips outside of Japan for fear of not being able to come back in. To the outside world, the situation in Japan seems near-horrifying: schools are closing, masks are sold out and the Prime Minister has been releasing more and more statements that lead the public to panic. 

I want to give you some insight on dealing with the Coronavirus as an expat abroad (particularly in Asia), on my experiences so far living in Japan during this time and how the situation in Japan really is from my first-hand account and research.

Disclaimer: As I am not a medical or healthcare professional, this post was not written to give medical or health advice. Instead, this post seeks to give some more information to those who are interested in how the virus affects those living abroad or to those who had planned to travel to Japan, Asia or other affected areas before the outbreak.

What is the Coronavirus?

The novel (new) Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a virus that attacks the respiratory system similar to other viruses in the same category such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Unlike SARS or MERS however, the Coronavirus has reportedly caused widespread infection at a faster rate, the current level of worldwide infection being about 48 days. The virus causes respiratory infection resulting in effects ranging from cold-like symptoms to deadly respiratory illness. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, the Coronavirus is actually a cluster of viruses commonly found in people and many different animals. 

The spread of the Coronavirus  first began in Wuhan, China, the capital of Hubei Province and one of the largest cities in China. It was originally traced to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a seafood and live-animal market in Wuhan, and initially believed to be transmitted from animals to humans. However, although the epicenter of the virus began after someone who was eventually found infected visited the market in Wuhan, subsequent cases of the virus have been found in people who had no contact with the market at all. As a result, the spread of the virus has been found to be person-to-person. The CDC has also reported that it is rare for the Coronavirus found in animals to spread from animal to human. As a result, the spread of the virus has been found to be person-to-person.

Confirmed Cases
2,994,958

Recovered
878,923

Reported Deaths
206,997

Mortality
1% – 3.4%

SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS

The severity of these systems range from mild to severe or even death. Those infected with the Coronavirus typically have symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, systems of the infection are pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and death.

The above systems and their severity are currently estimated to appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure, but these estimates are based on previously seen estimates of the MERS virus.

COVID-19, CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

HOW IT’S SPREAD

The Coronavirus is spread by person-to-person contact when one is in close contact (within 6 feet or 2 meters) of an infected person through respiratory droplets. It is also possible to be spread from an infected person who has yet to show symptoms, but this is not the most common way the virus is spread. The virus can also be spread by surfaces or objects touched by an infected person by touching the infected surface and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. At this point, the Coronavirus is considered to spread easily and at a sustained rate.

MORTALITY RATE AND
AGE OF DEATHS

The current mortality rate for the Coronavirus is estimated to be between 1% and 3.4%

Elderly people and people with compromised or weak immune systems are at a higher risk of catching the virus and experiencing severe symptoms. According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest risk of death in confirmed cases are those aged 80 and older and people with cardiovascular diseases. As of now, infected people under thirty have the lowest risk of death with the lowest number of deaths being zero.

Death Rate by Age

80+ years old14.8%
70-79 years old8.0%
69 to 10 years old0.98%
0-9 years oldno fatalities

Death Rate by Pre-Existing Conditions

Cardiovascular disease10.5%
Diabetes7.3%
Chronic respiratory disease6.3%
Hypertension6.0%
Cancer5.6%
No pre-existing conditions0.9%

(Source)

United States CDC Outbreak Map

What are the Countries that are Affected?

As of March 10 this year, the novel Coronovirus or COVID-19 has affected over 100 countries and territories with most cases of infection found in Asia. Below is a list of all affected countries and notated numbers of confirmed cases, reported recoveries and reported deaths.

Numbers are updated live here.

Countries and Territories  Confirmed Cases Reported Recovery Reported Deaths
United States* 987,322 118,781 55,415
Spain 226,629 117,727 23,190
Italy 197,675 64,928 26,644
France 162,100 44,903 22,856
Germany 157,770 112,00 5,976
United Kingdom 152,840 20,732
Turkey 110,130 29,140 2,805
Iran 90,481 69,657 5,710
China 82,830 77,474 4,633
Russia 80,949 6,767 747
Brazil 63,100 30,152 4,286
Canada 46,895 17,321 2,560
Belgium 46,134 10,785 7,094
Netherlands 37,845 4,475
Switzerland 29,061 21,800 1,610
India 27,890 6,523 881
Peru 27,517 8,088 728
Portugal 23,864 1,329 903
Ecuador 22,719 1,366 576
Ireland 19,262 9,233 1,087
Sweden 18,640 1,005 2,194
Saudi Arabia 17,522 2,357 139
Israel 15,433 6,731 201
Austria 15,225 12,282 542
Mexico 14,677 8,354 1,351
Singapore 13,624 1,060 12
Japan* 13,441 1,809 372
Chile 13,331 3,029 281
Pakistan 13,328 170 45
Poland 11,617 2,265 535
Romania 11,036 3,054 619
South Korea 10,738 8,764 243
Belarus 10,463 1,695 72
UAE 10,349 1,978 76
Qatar 10,287 10,012 10

*JAPAN: 712 confirmed cases and 8 deaths also occurred on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship docked in Yohokama, Japan. 
*USA: 21 of the confirmed cases are from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship that was docked in California.

These remaining countries have less than 10,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Channel Islands, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Faeroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembour, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Martinique, Mauritania,Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Palestine (Gaza Strip and West Bank), Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Réunion Island, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sint Maarten, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Barth, St. Vincent Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia

Additionally, John Hopkins University in the United States released a real-time interactive map showing active spots of virus infections around the world.

How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad: Empty Street in Japan

Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay

How is the Coronavirus in Japan?

As of February 28, there have been over 900 confirmed cases of Coronovirus infection in Japan with the majority on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. 33 out of 47 prefectures in Japan have at least one confirmed case and there have been deaths recorded in Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Tokyo, Aichi and Wakayama.

If you haven’t seen it all over international media, most schools in Japan have closed due to the suggestion of the Prime Minister. Not only that, many popular tourist attractions (Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Universal Studios Japan, the Ghibli Museum, etc.) have closed not only to reduce the spread of the virus, but to also reduce financial loss. Japan’s tourism industry is taking a huge hit due to travel bans of key tourist populations, people in Japan are trying to stay home, and many people are stockpiling in a panic due to heavy media coverage. 

Just last week, the whole nation ran out of toilet paper because of a rumor that restrictions against China would disrupt toilet paper importation from China. Face masks have been sold out for weeks, and hand sanitizer is hard to find.

How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad: Empty Mask Shelves
How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad: Empty Toilet Paper Shelves

Empty face mask and toilet paper shelves at my local grocery store in Japan.

Other than the lack of toilet paper and face masks, life in Japan has continued pretty much as usual. There are still people on the streets, albeit a lot less than usual, people still go to kaitenzushi for cheap eats, and people still have to go to work–even on those crowded trains. 

Tip

When traveling to Japan during the Coronavirus outbreak, be sure to bring face masks, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and tissues.

The biggest difference can be felt with women and children. As most schools and daycares are closed so children have to stay home, and that means that there has to be a parent or guardian available to stay home, too. While many children live with their grandparents, the elderly population has the highest risk of infection and may not be able to look after the children all day. So, whose shoulders does child care fall on: the mother. Many mothers who work outside of the home have expressed difficulties taking time off, teleworking, and in extreme cases have had to quit their jobs.

The Japanese Business Federation requested all companies allow teleworking, but most companies have not allowed this. Companies in all sectors are experiencing financial loss and old companies with long histories have had to file for bankruptcy (an it’s even affected one of Japan’s biggest job hunting periods T.T).

On an even larger scale, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are at stake. Major sporting events like Sumo and national major league baseball games have already been cancelled or closed to spectators and many people are afraid that the Olympics will have to be cancelled as well–at a huge financial loss to Japan and the city of Tokyo. That decision will have to be made by May.

Tip

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) operates a multilingual Coronavirus hotline for those who think they may be infected. Support is available 24 hours a day in English, Chinese and Korean.

Currently twenty-seven countries have issued travel advisories warning against travel to Japan or have restricted entry of Japanese nationals while Japan has issued travel restrictions on China, South Korea, and Italy.

See the Updates section below for up-to-date information.

Opinions by Expats and Japanese Locals

I asked a few of my friends, Japanese and foreign expats, in various places around Japan, “How do you feel about the current situation in Japan and the Coronavirus?”

“While many businesses in Tokyo and Saitama are having people work from home to prevent exposure, my situation is a little different. I work in quality assurance at a manufacturing company. It is a very hands-on job that requires the use of special equipment, so working from home isn’t an option for me. Our yearly company trip was cancelled, but many of my colleagues are continuing to go abroad on their business trips. Unfortunately, during his recent business trip in Europe, my boss was denied Uber rides by drivers afraid to deal with Asian customers.

Usually I spend my weekends exploring Tokyo, but I have been trying to limit my time on public transportation and in highly crowded places. Many of the most popular attractions in Tokyo are closed and there are considerably less tourists. I ventured out to a popular cafe in Harajuku the other night to find it nearly empty and the streets eerily quiet.” (March 12, 2020)

“It feels like being in limbo in Aomori Prefecture. We have no confirmed cases of Covid-19 yet, but reports of the extremely low number of tests being done daily and how people with symptoms are being turned away if it’s not extreme enough are very worrying. We still get all the effects of the virus–panic buying of toilet paper and face masks, schools being closed but only classes being cancelled and teachers being required to show up to work every day–without any official confirmation and more preventative measures being taken. Life continues on as normal, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops here, and I would almost welcome that because then at least we would know, and hopefully more would be done to stop it.” (March 10, 2020)

“I think Japan has mishandled a lot of things and is keeping a lot of information from the people. As it goes on, there’s less and less updated information in English available. Other than [that], the rest of the world [is] saying, ‘It’s probably much more widespread than Japan even knows.’ [Overall], I’m more frustrated by the lack of information than worried about [the virus]. I worry more about my family back home.” (March 9, 2020)

“It’s weird to be amidst the outbreak so much more than I’ve ever been. I mean this is not new, the world has seen Ebola, Swine Flu, H1N1, etc., but I guess I’ve felt less involved when I’m in my own country (South Africa). Now, I feel the direct threat. I think a lot of people agree, but I’m not scared of the actual disease, but more so the reaction to it. On a micro, personal level, if I get it, all the schools I work at have to close, and that’s a big deal because we’re keeping kids from being educated. Also, Japan has a ton of old people, and I could indirectly kill someone. I know I’ll survive and be totally fine if anything… It’s not fun to have anxiety every time you feel a wiggle in your throat. Life is not the same at all right now, streets and bars are empty, the days are slow and there’s no work. I might just die of boredom and isolation first.” (March 10, 2020)

“I feel like I have it easier than most of my colleagues in this situation. My school told me a day before Prime Minister Abe ‘suggested’ all schools shut down that I have the next 2 weeks off, no strings attached.

I took this time to settle in and honestly, recover from the burn out. As you know, this is the time we start job hunting, so it has been really tough, mentally and physically. I live in a pretty residential area, so I can walk my daily walks without ever walking through a crowd.

I know some of my friends are having a harder time, so I feel blessed and really uncomfortable that this time of unease and panic is different on my end.” (March 10, 2020)

“I think the Japanese government is handling this problem [well]. Thanks to their action, the number of people who suffer from this viral infection is controlled in Japan.

In the future, I think Japanese companies should find another place to make their products in the future. I mean, it is risky to have only [one main] production base. Many Japanese companies have plants in China, so they have been affected by this virus. At this time, it is expanding all over the world, though.” (March 22, 2020)

“Although I don’t personally have any fear of the Coronavirus itself because it is only fatal for old people (and I don’t live with my grandparents), I really hate this situation in a way because it ruined my graduation trip. For example, I needed to cancel a trip to America because one of my friends was afraid of [the] situation. We couldn’t get any money back from the airline. We planned a domestic trip instead, but some of the main attractions were closed to prevent the Coronavirus.” (March 10, 2020)

“It does not affect me as much as there is no person who has been infected by Covid-19 in Fukui. I just wash or disinfect my hands more often. However, most of the events [in Fukui] have been cancelled because of the virus, which is really disappointing. Also, the cram school I work at has been closed until March 15th, so I think many people who work as part time workers like me earn less money, and it can be a big problem for their lives.” (March 10, 2020)

「今回のコロナウィルスは想像していたよりも強力で驚きました。公共の施設やサービスが止まり、行き場のない人々が増えています。それによって経済にも影響がでています。特に京都は観光客が減少しています。これから桜の美しい時期というのに、これからどうなるのでしょうか? 先行きがわかりませんが、逆に人の少ない京都を楽しんでみるのもいいかなと思ってます!」

“The Coronavirus is more powerful than I imagined, so I was surprised. Public facilities and services have stopped, and there are less and less people going out.  This is all affecting the economy. In particular, tourists in Kyoto are decreasing. Although cherry blossoms are at their most beautiful, what will happen from now? I don’t know the future, but I think it actually may be a good chance to enjoy Kyoto when there are less people!” (March 13, 2020)

The effects of the Coronavirus are felt differently by everyone, but everyone, Japanese or expat, can feel a definite change in their daily lives due to the virus and the various measures that Japan has taken to prevent its spread.

Should You Cancel Your Travel Plans?

The biggest question for travel bloggers and digital nomads, frequent travelers and even the occasional traveler during this time is: should I cancel my trip or any international travel plans? 

Decisions regarding travel restrictions and situations in affected countries change every day–one minute, there’s no cases and the next there are over 50 and counting, so there’s no definite answer to this question. 

When booking travel plans, sometimes shi* happens and plans don’t turn out the way they were supposed to or don’t happen at all. The Coronavirus only adds to the risk of travel because new decisions are made every day–sometimes every few hours! Under normal conditions, there’s no guarantee that travel plans won’t be interrupted by a natural disaster, a pandemic, food poisoning or even a breakup. Regardless of if your travel plans go smoothly or go horribly wrong, you should check your local government’s travel advisories for the latest travel advice and restrictions.

When deciding on whether to cancel your trip or to continue as planned, the most important points to consider are if you will be able to enter the country you plan on traveling to, and perhaps even more important, if you can return to your home country after your trip. Are there quarantines in place or are you banned from entering all together? Are you at a higher risk of becoming infected?

Tip

The current United States travel advisory on Japan is at a level 2 as Japan has sustained “community spread” of the virus. Community spread means a person who was infected with the virus from an outbreak area has passed it onto someone else in their community, and the virus is now moving to new areas that did not previously have it.

As of now, the following countries have announced travel restrictions or bans

  • Ghana, Kenya, Morroco, Namibia, South Africa, Argentina, Bolivia Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuala, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Israel have announced stricter border controls or bans to citizens who have visited affected countries and foreign nationals from affected countries.
  • The United States, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, India, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, 26 countries in the European Union, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and North Macedonia have closed their borders to foreign nationals and non-essential travel.
  • Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru have closed their borders to citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals.
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland have not implemented any entry restrictions.

(Source)

Situations around the world are changing rapidly, so it may be in your best interest to cancel your trip to avoid unnecessary risk.

Bottom-line: This decision is completely up to you and what risk you’re comfortable with taking! It’s important to look at all the facts and make the best decision for you, but listening to exaggerated media or uninformed opinions from those around you may not be the best advice to take. If you do decide to travel, be sure to take precautions for a worst-case scenario, pack appropriate hygiene supplies, and get travel insurance. On the other hand, if you decide to cancel your travel plans, get in contact as soon as possible with your airline, accommodations, or travel agent to see if you can get refunds on what you’ve booked.

Should You Leave Your Affected Host Country?

If you’re an expat living in one of the affected countries, especially those with high infection numbers such as China, Italy, the United States and Spain, then you have probably heard all sorts of pleas from family and friends to return home. The news is constantly updating the public with fear or hysteria-inducing coverage, the decisions in each affected country change rapidly day-by-day, and with each new travel restriction put into place, you wonder if you’ll actually be able to go back home. 

I can’t tell you if you should drop everything in your host country and move back home, I can only tell you my decisions and reasoning. As for myself, I have decided to stay put in Japan. With each day, new travel restrictions on the country level and even on the prefecture-level have changed completely from when the virus first reached Japan’s shores. Every new directive form the Japanese government sends the public into a panic that not only includes the perpetual lack of toilet paper, face masks, and hand sanitizer, but also the rising Xenophobia brought on by a lack of education and fear-mongering by the media. One day I was going to work like normal, eating lunch with my students and helping them with their essays–the next moment I was saying goodbye to them two-weeks ahead of schedule as I wouldn’t see them again until school was scheduled to reopen in April (now pushed back to the beginning of May). 

If you do decide to leave your host country, try to think ahead to at least the summer. Can you return to your host country after you leave? Are you effectively quitting your job? Are you just going back home until everything blows over? Is it even worth getting on a plane and facing the risks of transit? Can you afford to move back? What about all of your things in your host country? These are some of the many important questions you’ll need to ask yourself if you seriously consider moving back home because of the Coronavirus.

Bottom-line: Is moving back worth it? If so, do you leave everything behind or try to pack up and leave?

How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad: Mask On Street

Image by Daniel Bichler from Pixabay

What Can You Do to Prevent It?

There are a few preventative measures you can take to combat the Coronavirus, the Flu, or any other contagious virus or bacteria.

  1. Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% of alcohol or alcohol wipes when soap is not available. In Japan especially, there isn’t always soap available nor paper towels to wipe your hands. Some experts have even said to avoid drying your hands with a hand dryer. 
  2. Stop touching your face! This includes your eyes, nose and mouth. I know that’s a little difficult, but humans touch their face up to 3,000 times a day!
  3. Avoid crowded spaces or close contact with others (especially if they are sick). This includes trains during rush hour!
  4. Wipe down surfaces before using them. It is still unclear how long the Coronavirus can survive on surfaces, but you should still be careful of getting infected from contaminated hard or soft surfaces. On a side note, I’m gonna be honest here and dispel a stereotype: Yes, Japan is very clean, but it’s not the cleanest place on earth. Not everyone in Japan washes their hands frequently or after using the bathroom! Actually, it can be quite the opposite and many expats have complained about the lack of hand-washing done by children and adults.

Should I Wear a Mask?

Did you notice something missing from the above tips? You guessed it, face masks. 

Widespread use of face masks may protect you from other people’s germs, but they are most effective when someone is sick, someone is taking care of a sick person, or if being used by a medical professional who needs to minimize the risk of getting sick from the various patients they treat daily. According to the World Health Organization, you only need to wear a face mask if you are taking care of sick people or someone suspected of having the Coronavirus and/or if you are coughing or sneezing (basically, if you are the sick person). 

If you do decide wear a mask, whether it’s a surgical mask or a N95, be sure to wash your hands (with soap/alcohol, you nasty!) before putting on the mask. The mask should cover your nose and mouth, and there should be no gaps between your face and the mask. Unless stated otherwise, masks are typically single-use and should not be reused. When your mask is dirty or damp, you should throw away your mask and change to a clean one. After all, that damp/dirty mask is soaked with your DNA, sick or not.

How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad: Mask Comparison

Updates

March 22, 2020: Things are going back to normal or business-as-usual in Japan with some amusement parks planning to open again in April; however critics fear that the lax attitude in Japan and cherry blossom season being one of the most popular seasons in Japan will re-surge numbers of confirmed cases before the summer.

A little more close to home is that Fukui Prefecture confirmed its first case of the virus last week. Many people (including myself) think that there are many more cases that most likely have not been serious enough to be tested at a hospital, especially as Japan does not test for the virus unless a person has sustained typical symptoms and/or had exposure to someone confirmed infected.

March 30, 2020: The United States approved a Coronavirus relief and stimulus package for legal residents and citizens of the United States. Those who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive payment of up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $500 for each qualifying child.

April 1, 2020: Japan is denying entry to foreign nationals from certain countries (Canada, the United States, etc.), but domestic flights continue to run. Japanese nationals returning to Japan are to still undergo a 14-day quarantine.

April 5, 2020: With the Postponing of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until Summer 2021, new cases of the Coronavirus in Japan have increased over 300 cases a day. Schools across the country are urged to remain closed until after Golden Week (until May 6), and governments have urged people to stay home and practice social-distancing (自粛). Tokyo is facing an impending government-enforced lock-down in the coming weeks.

In the United States, the CDC began encouraging people to wear some sort of “cloth face covering” when going outside and/or if social-distancing methods can’t be practiced.

April 7, 2020: The government of Japan announced a state of emergency for all prefectures until May 6. The government will not enforce a national lock-down, but has urged the public to practice the 3密 (密集、密接、密度:avoidance of crowds, close contact, and places with high densities of people) or social-distancing rules. Further extension of the state of emergency will be announced after the Golden Week holidays.

The government also launched a economic relief and stimulus package for all registered residents of Japan (including foreign nationals with a registered foreigner card or permanent resident). Residents in Japan have the ability to receive ¥100,000 ($1,000 USD) after applying. Applications may be sent out starting in early to mid-May.

April 20, 2020: Fukui Prefecture announced that all households in the prefecture will be given a purchase voucher for two boxes of 50 masks (totaling 100 masks). The vouchers can be redeemed at all Genky stores. Each box is valued at approximately ¥2,400 or $22 USD. Vouchers will be mailed out starting on April 23.

Have any questions or comments about the Coronavirus in Japan or want to share your own experience? Please comment below!

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12 thoughts on “How to Deal with the Coronavirus as an Expat Abroad”

  1. Hands up to your post! That’s very informative and practical and a lot of points, I’m definitely agreeing with you. Best wishes from Rome 😀

  2. Great post on the situation in Japan. They’ve done quite a good job of controlling it comparted to other countries. Maybe it’s their habit of bowing instead of handshaking or kissing.

    1. Bliss, it’s a double-edged sword here as many people feel they can relax, and that’s when we can become the most careless! But, bowing–like elbow-touching–may be one of the solutions. 😀

  3. This is one of the most comprehensive and informative posts I’ve read about the coronavirus situation! I think the possibility of not being able to return after a trip is my biggest concern. I’ve already had to cut my Asia trip short earlier last month, and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to go through with my upcoming trip at the end of April. At this point we are just watching the situation a day at a time.

    1. Katy, thank you so much! The situation worldwide has changed so rapidly that staying in your home country is looking like the best answer now. I’m not sure about April, either, but I hope things start to calm down with warmer temperatures.

    1. Carmen, thank you! You are so right, the Coronavirus escalated so quickly and it’s hard to know where we’ll all be globally a month or two from now. I hope you stay safe as well!

  4. What an interesting post Natasha! It is important to read about corona and take safety measures. I currently live and work in Spain but made it home to my family in Germany before everything was shut down. I think especially as an expat you have to adapt to the conditions in the foreign country and it can be challenging do deal with everything under these circumstances.

    Sending you lots of strength during these times, Miri
    http://www.meetmiri.com

    1. Miri, thank you for reading and I completely agree! You do have to adapt to the conditions of the foreign host country as an expat, and especially during something as wide-spread as this, it is sure creating great anxiety in expat communities globally.

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