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Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Tokyo (April 22, 2020)
April 22, 2020

Japan continues to experience a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. As of April 21st, more than 11,500 cases have been detected nationwide. The increased number of COVID-19 cases is putting pressure on healthcare capacity, and several prefectures have responded with steps to expand the number of available hospital beds for COVID-19 patients. These steps include renting hotel rooms for patients with mild symptoms, and/or permitting patients with mild or no symptoms to self-isolate at home.

Our diplomatic mission continues to monitor Japan’s health care system carefully. With positive cases increasing, U.S. citizens with pre-existing medical conditions may not be able to receive the medical care they have grown accustomed to in Japan prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several medical facilities throughout Japan have cancelled/postponed “non-essential” medical treatment, to include elective procedures and other clinical treatments. U.S. citizens in Japan undergoing regular medical treatment(s) and/or receiving prescription medication for non-COVID-19 conditions are urged to remain in close contact with their medical providers as this situation evolves.

State of Emergency in Japan

Prime Minister Abe has declared a state of emergency covering the entire country that will last at least through May 6. The Prime Minister outlined measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and asked people to avoid closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. He also called on people to avoid non-essential outings, reduce person-to-person contact by at least 70-80 percent, and refrain from crossing prefectural borders for non-essential travel.

Specific measures taken under the state of emergency will vary by prefecture, as the prefectural governors will issue instructions and requests.

According to press reports, the Prime Minister’s target of a 70-80 percent reduction in person-to-person contact nationwide is not being met, and he has called on residents to reduce their outings further. Tokyo Governor Koike has ended multiple press conferences with a plea to residents, saying “please avoid going outdoors, please keep social distance. Stay home, stay in Tokyo, save lives.”

We strongly encourage all U.S. citizens to comply with measures under the state of emergency announced by local authorities, including limiting non-essential outings, using masks or cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and maintaining at least six feet of distance between yourself and others. We urge all U.S. citizens to avoid public transportation during peak hours in order to increase social distance and reduce person-to-person contact.

All U.S. Mission Japan facilities remain open and staffed, with non-emergency employees actively teleworking. U.S. Mission Japan personnel continue to follow United States and Japanese government recommended practices promoting social distancing and minimizing non-essential travel.

U.S. Mission Japan staff have been advised to avoid public transportation during peak hours, and to follow Government of Japan guidance to refrain from crossing prefectural borders unless absolutely necessary.

Reduction in International Flights

International flights are currently available in Japan, but service continues to diminish. Only six percent of pre-COVID capacity between Japan and the United States (including Guam) remains in service, and further reductions are scheduled. Direct flights between the United States and Japan are currently only available from Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports. U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States should make commercial arrangements to do so immediately unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. The U.S. government does not anticipate staging repatriation flights in Japan. U.S. citizens who reside abroad should avoid all international travel.

Suspension of Routine Passport and Citizenship Services

The U.S. Department of State has suspended processing of routine passport and citizenship services. Until further notice, we are only able to issue limited validity emergency passports. Because of this suspension, we are unable to issue Consular Reports of Birth Abroad for infants and children. However, we can document the child’s citizenship with an emergency passport and strongly encourage families to apply for such documentation. To request an appointment for an emergency passport, please contact the Embassy or consulate nearest you for assistance.

Resources in Japan

Below are sources of local COVID-19 information in English. This list is not exhaustive:

U.S. citizens should closely monitor trusted local news sources and local authorities’ communications for updates and information.

The Japan National Tourism Organization maintains up-to-date information on screening and quarantine measures for travelers. It also operates a 24/7 visitor hotline, available in English. To call from Japan: 050-3816-2787; from overseas: +81-50-3816-2787.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also has a 24/7 hotline at +81-3-3595-2176 with English-speaking operators, and has a Q&A on the new measures.

The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia Medical Information Center are operating a hotline to assist foreign nationals in Japan with questions about COVID-19. It is available from 10:00 to 17:00, and can be reached at 03-6233-9266. More information can be found here.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched a multilingual call center on COVID-19 for foreign residents. They can be reached by phone from 10:00 to 17:00, Monday through Friday, at 0120-296-004. Callers should note that the initial recording is in Japanese, but if you hold the line you can be assisted in English.

Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel: The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory for COVID-19.

CDC Travel Notice for Japan: On March 21, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Warning (Avoid Nonessential Travel) for COVID-19 in Japan.

Actions to Take: