Q&A about Novel Coronovirus (For the General Public)

April 4, 2020

4  Prevention of Novel Coronavirus


Q13  Is there anything we need to be careful about to prevent infection? What should I do if I am worried? 


First, wash your hands with soap or alcohol disinfectant.

Specifically, wash your hands with soap or disinfect with alcohol-based hand rub and avoid crowded areas as much as possible. It is also important to get enough sleep.


Also, avoid places with crowds. Please be careful when you spend a certain amount of time indoors where the distance between each other is not sufficient.


At present, there are vastly more people with illnesses other than the novel coronavirus.  If you are worried about influenza, then please go to your usual doctor or health clinic.  (If you suspect that you may have novel coronavirus, please see Question 14).

Q14  What can be done to prevent outbreaks?  (UPDATED)


Although in many cases, people infected with the novel coronavirus have not infected the people around them, there are also cases in which one person is suspected to have spread the infection to many people (such as the case of the floating boat restaurant or sports gym).  There are cases of “small patient clusters” in some areas.  (“Small patient cluster” refers to a group of patients whose infection routes are being tracked, ranging from a few patients to several dozens of patients).


In order to prevent the rapid spread of infection, it is important to take measures at an early stage in order to stop small patient clusters at their starting points.  Based on an analysis of past cases of secondary infections produced by a single infected person, it appears that the number of secondary infections is characteristically high where the environment was closed (i.e. insufficiently ventilated) (Graph below)


For these reasons, there are three common areas where outbreaks have been confirmed: 1. airtight, poorly ventilated space, 2. crowded places, 3. Places where conversations take place in close proximity.  Avoid gathering together in places where these conditions overlap at the same time (poor ventilation, spaces where people gather and spend time - closed space, crowded place, places where close contact occurs).

~ You can stop the illness of many people and save lives by simply avoiding “places where the three conditions overlap at the same time”. ~





Q15  In families which have a suspected infection, what kind of precautions should be taken in the household?


If your family is suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, other family members living in the same household should heed the following 8 points (for details, refer to the summary by the Japan Society for Environmental Infectious Diseases).


The person with the suspected infection should avoid going out.  Family members and cohabitants should also monitor their health by measuring their temperatures, avoiding unnecessary outings, and in particular not going to work and such places if they exhibit symptoms such as coughing or fever.


(1) Separate rooms: 

It is better for the infected person to occupy their own room.  They should also eat and sleep in a separate room.  For households which can’t divide their rooms, such as those with children or those who have few rooms, a distance of at least 2 meters should be left, and a partition or curtain should be put up.  When sleeping, each person’s head should be in a staggered position.


(2)  Limit the number of people taking care of the person suspected of infection (as much as possible): 

People with heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, reduced immunity, pregnant women, etc. should not take care of the person suspected of infection.

(3) Wear a mask:

Do not take the used mask to another room.

Avoid touching the mask surface. When removing the mask, pinch the elastic part or string and remove it. Be sure to wash your hands with soap after removing the mask (alcohol hand sanitizer is acceptable).

If the mask becomes dirty, replace it with a new, clean dry mask. When coughing or sneezing without a mask, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.


(4) Wash your hands frequently:

Wash your hands frequently with soap. Disinfect with alcohol.  Do not touch eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.


(5) Ventilate:

Rooms should be regularly ventilated. Open windows in common spaces and other rooms.


(6)  Disinfect things which are commonly touched by hand:

The virus attached to an object survives for a while. Common areas such as door handles, knobs and bed fences should be wiped with diluted commercial chlorine bleach for household use and then water.


* Confirm that the main ingredient of household chlorine bleach is sodium hypochlorite.  For this product, please adjust to get a concentration of 0.05% (so for example, if the product’s concentration is 6%, the solution should be made up of 3L of water and 25㎖ of the product).


Rinse toilets and toilets with regular household cleaners and disinfect them frequently with a household disinfectant. Towels, clothing, dishes, chopsticks, spoons, etc. can be washed or washed as usual. There is no need to separate and wash the used food from suspected family members.

Before cleaning, do not share things. In particular, be careful not to share towels in toilets, washrooms, kitchens, etc.


(7) Wash dirty linen and clothes:

Wear gloves and a mask when washing clothes and linen contaminated with bodily fluids, wash with common household detergent and dry completely.

* Virus may be detected from feces.


(8) Seal and discard garbage:

Immediately put the tissue used for blowing your nose into a plastic bag, and seal it tightly when taking it outside of the room. Then wash your hands immediately with soap.


Source:  Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control (in Japanese)

Q16   What does it mean to be in “close contact”?


There are two important factors in determining whether or not a person is in “close contact”:   1) distance between people and 2) contact time.  A person is considered to be a close contact person if he / she touches (each other) without taking necessary precautionary measures, or if he / she has been in proximity to each other for more than a certain period of time, at a distance within reach of each other (approximately 2 meters).


At the “Expert Meeting on Novel Coronavirus Infection Control”, the experts stated that there is a high risk of infection spreading when there is an environment with a lot of people who have close contact face to face (within a distance where both people can touch each other when reaching out, or about 2 meters) and with continuous contact, for example conversations lasting more than a certain amount of time.


Click here for the opinion of the “Expert Meeting on Novel Coronavirus Infection Control” (in Japanese)

Q17  What is "cough etiquette"?


Cough etiquette is the use of masks, tissue, handkerchiefs, sleeves, the inside of elbows, etc. to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent transmitting the infectious disease to others.

For more information, please see the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare homepage (in Japanese)




Q18  Are there any precautionary guidelines about holding events?  (UPDATED)



With regard to large-scale events nationwide, the expert meeting on March 19 noted that such events can increase the spread of the infection nationally, and that therefore organizers of such events should asses the risks and take prudent measures.  For this reason, taking into account the situation of the area, if the organizer judges that it is absolutely necessary to hold the event, they must take sufficient measures to prevent infection.  They should continue to keep in mind measures to prevent infection, and can refer to the text of  "Examples of Infection Control Measures" (as given in the text of “Analysis of the Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Recommendations”,  March 19, 2020 Expert Meeting on Novel Coronavirus Disease Control).


“Analysis of the Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Recommendations”, March 19, 2020 Expert Meeting on New Coronavirus Infectious Disease Control

See English summary at https://www.mhlw.go.jp/content/10900000/000611515.pdf 

Q19  What specific measures are being taken at social welfare facilities and similar facilities where there are many elderly people?


Elderly people and those with underlying illness are more likely to become seriously ill from the novel coronavirus, so it is important to not bring in or spread infection in nursing homes for the elderly, and it is important to cut off the infection route. For this reason, through local governments and related organizations that have the authority to designate and supervise facilities, etc., we are implementing thorough measures against infection by sharing important points regarding anti-infection measures for facilities and other facilities nationwide.


Specifically, at each facility, etc., based on the infection control manuals provided by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, we strongly request measures to cut off the route of transmission, such as cough etiquette including wearing masks, disinfecting through handwashing and alcohol based disinfectant/gel, mask, apron and gloves when providing services, handwashing before serving meals and using clean plates. 


In addition, based on the outbreak situation of the novel coronavirus infectious disease: 


➀ Staff should measure their body temperature before going to work, and should stay at home if if they have symptoms such as fever.


➁ It is also advisable for facilities to limit visits from outside people unless it is urgent and unavoidable.  Visitors should have their body temperature measured and if they have fever, then their visit should be refused.


➂ Regarding contractors, deliver goods only to the entrance of facilities.  If entering, they should have their body temperature measured and if they have fever, then their entry should be refused.