Seeing the aftermath of the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit the Noto Peninsular in Ishikawa Prefecture on New Year’s Day, you may sympathise with the people in the refuge centres by thinking “How awful. Three years of Japan’s Covid nonsense and now this.” But you’d be wrong to assume Covid nonsense was over. On January 6th, a whopping three cases of Covid were reported at one of the refuge centres. And it’s not just Covid. There have been cases of influenza and norovirus too. So you know what that means.
As a 78-year-old women explained to a local, “For ventilation, the doors have been kept open, so it’s cold, but everyone is enduring it. We also wear masks while sleeping.”
Wearing masks while sleeping is so stupid I’m surprised the Japanese Government never officially recommended it. But its health effects are positively invigorating compared with those of keeping doors open in midwinter, especially in a refuge centre full of underfed and highly stressed elderly.
You may think that when the idea was proposed, someone would surely have pointed out the self-defeating absurdity of making people cold in order to stop them catching colds. But this behaviour actually exemplifies Japan’s zero-risk attitude to Covid perfectly.
You see, Covid is a risk, so each so-called ‘infection prevention measure’ such as sleep-masking and ventilation from freezing cold wind is assumed to bring the risk closer to zero. Thus, the more measures, the better. So everyone endures it, as the old lady says. And if the measures lead to someone dying from hypothermia (or three years of extensive socioeconomic damage), then korona dakara sho ga nai (‘because of Covid, it can’t be helped’).
And with a national mentality like this, the people can’t be helped much either.