Japan Trip Safety during coronavirus outbreak

mundies's picture
mundies started the topic in Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 2:24pm

Hey any updates from anyone currently in or just been to Japan? I'm due to fly there this Sunday with family, Aust Govt just upgraded travel advisory warning to Level Two which still reads as kind of benign ie not canning non-essential travel:
Latest update from www.smarttraveller.gov.au: Based on advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, we now recommend you ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ in Japan due to a heightened risk of sustained local transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Monitor your health closely and follow the advice of local authorities.

It's hard to get a real handle on the situation when I've read and heard anything along the spectrum between 'it's an overreaction and safe as houses' through to 'there's a global conspiracy and millions will die'...

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 4:32pm

Whaddya reckon Zen?

Pops's picture
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Pops commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 4:36pm

Got a few mates over there skiing at the moment. I'll see if what their experience has been and post again if there's anything worth sharing.

He who hesitates is lost

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 9:19am

Gosh, it's hard to say. I can't advise either way. From my perspective at a local level there's been a heightened 'awareness' of COVID-19 as in local gatherings are being cancelled or postponed and every single drugstore has sold out of hand sanitiser. Also, this is rare for Japan, but most businesses have a big pump bottle of hand sanitiser at the entrance, I've heard in some cases those are being stolen. Also, many many people wear masks but doesn't seem any different to other years, the Japanese always wear masks in the colder months and coming into hayfever season. Personally, I'm not too worried but I live in an area that sees few foreigners and the places I ski/board see even fewer.

Btw, this 2019/20 season has to go on record as being the WORST season ever. There's been a couple of dumps but on the whole, it's been shite everywhere. With the exception of Minakami which in one week got a huge dump of snow, there's bee a distinct lack of winter storms that bring the snow in from Siberia. Even good old Niseko is not really delivering this year. Of course it's skiable it is Japan after all but the days of faceys galore and being up to your nipples in the dry fluffy stuff have been few and far between.

Yesterday I went to a small local place called Tengendai kogen just inside Yamagata, big drive, about a 500k round trip but we got some nice powder as it's a quite high elevation resort. Was definitely the only round-eye there. I like these little off the radar places rather than the big name joints.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 6:57pm

Faceys !

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 7:30pm

My wife just got home and is a bit cheesed off- her little concert has been cancelled and she's been rehearsing for a few months now.

(she's a classical pianist btw)

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Distracted's picture
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Distracted commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 8:08pm

Tough call with the family in tow. Hopefully the Japanese are onto it and can contain, however, in a few weeks could well be a different story. Wonder how the Olympics will play out!

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 8:29pm

Adding to Zen’s helpful comments, I’m based in Tokyo and heard from a Japanese colleague today that a number of people have tested positive for the virus after visiting Niseko. I recognise that’s hearsay but if you’re heading there and concerned, might be worth digging around for more info online. Japan Times is an English publication and may be a good starting point

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Blowin commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 8:37pm

.

mundies's picture
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mundies commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 9:22pm

Thanks Swellnet Hive Mind & in particular the resident nipponophiles aka Zenagain & Clivus. We're staying on Honshu, first trip taking my daughters (9 & 7) to Nozawa Onsen. Still not sure. Travel advisory not enough yet to kick in travel insurance but if I'm feeling it's too dicey I'm willing to forgo a few K for the healthy and safety of my family on what is purely a leisure trip. Nothing essential about it.
If we do go i reckon we'll ditch the Disney theme park bit we were planning on doing at the end and keep our heads down up in the mountains.

This, from the Financial Times 2 hours ago:

https://www.ft.com/content/48881d16-5781-11ea-a528-dd0f971febbc

"Japan has warned it is on the brink of a rapid expansion of the coronavirus and urged companies to adopt remote working, staggered shifts and online meetings to reduce the spread of the illness.

An expert government panel said there had been 146 infections confirmed in more than 16 different prefectures, excluding cases from an infected cruise ship and Japanese evacuees from China. In numerous cases the source of the infection was not clear.

“We are at the crossroads,” Shigeru Omi, head of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, said at a press briefing, adding: “Local transmission is already going on.” Prime minister Shinzo Abe asked companies to adopt the new strategy after his cabinet on Tuesday approved a new antivirus plan.

The move came after a spate of new virus cases outside China, including outbreaks in Italy and South Korea, dashed investor hopes that the epidemic was close to being contained. Globally, the number of confirmed cases jumped to more than 80,000 on Tuesday, with 2,699 deaths."

Fark.

mundies

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mundies commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 9:24pm

And this from an hour ago in The Japan Times, cases in 17 prefectures including Nagano:

"The nation’s total tally of infected has risen day by day, widening as of Tuesday to 17 prefectures. By the afternoon, one new case was reported in Kumamoto and another was confirmed in Nagano — the first in the prefecture."

mundies

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 10:01pm

What do you do? I'm feeling for you Mundies. I guess if you're going to come i'd just try and minimise as much as you can being in close proximity to other people. Obviously transportation-wise that will be unavoidable, plane, shinkansen, bus etc. so i'd bring lots of sanitiser and alcohol wipes and try and keep your hands clean, especially the kids.

I think because of the amount of money businesses are losing, greater precautions are being taken to preserve what business remains.

Two things I would do is research as much as possible (short of cancelling your trip) what you can do to minimise your exposure to COVID-19 and second, I'd contact your travel insurer and find out to what extent you're covered should you or your family catch it. As you would know insurance companies would step over their own mothers to avoid paying out a claim and should you be hit with any exceptional expenses, you'll want to be sure you're covered.

In case you need help in an emergency with a native speaker, hit Ben up and you can get my email from SN. Hopefully won't need it but happy to help if I can.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

oceans11's picture
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oceans11 commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 10:35pm

Mundies

My son and partner returned from their snow trip on the 12th. Feb., firstly 9 days in Hakuba and then 9 days in Myoko. Their last 2 days in Tokyo sightseeing and a day at Disneyland. So far all good on the health front, the mountains were uncrowded but Disneyland was fairly busy as usual with heaps of Chinese tourists.
From what I read 3rd world countries should be avoided as they may not be able to provide any medical assistance to foreigners, Japan should be o.k.
I read that insurance companies may not cover cancellations and medical problems in relation to corona virus issues, worth checking out.
Very difficult situation to be in because containment in all countries that have corona virus patients is now a major concern and numbers could escalate very quickly.
Zen, my sons trip was panning out to be very ordinary but they had 2 reasonable dumps in Hakuba and then Myoko came good with 1good fall and then 2 more big follow up dumps 3 days apart with a blue bird day in-between.Very satisfied in the end.
Good luck

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020 at 10:43pm

Good to hear Oceans. A terrible Japanese season trumps a good Aussie one anyday but in terms of the volume of snow, this season isn't a patch on previous years.

Having said that, good dump expected across Nagano/Niigata/Gunma tonight.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Torqs20's picture
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Torqs20 commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 8:15am

Mundies. I returned from 14 day trip in Feb last week. No problems. The Japanese are more hygienic than Australians from what I experienced there. Most of the population were wearing face masks while out and about which is normal for this time of year. Hand sanitiser is everywhere. There are signs everywhere warning of Coronavirus.

When flying takie bacterial wipes to wipe down the seat arm rests and tray. Take your own hand sanitiser and practice good hygiene. Wear a mask when in high population areas. Only a correctly fitted P2 mask is of benefit for filtration. Surgical masks do nothing. You should be able to pick them up at bunnings in the tool section as the bushfire smoke hazard no longer exists in Oz.

Funniest thing I saw flying via Hong Kong was a guy wearing swimming googles in the airport and on the plane. Bit of an overkill. But alas that is the sensationalism of this strain of flu.

As you have already done stay up to date with the smartraveller website. Rules for any overseas travel is always practice good hygiene.

As for the snow quality I agree with zenagain it has been a very average total snowfall season but the snow quality has been good. If you are skiing on piste you will be ok. If you do side/back country the recent snow will make for some nice skiing in the tree's. Try windy.com is fairly reliable tool for weather forecasting for both snow and surf.

Yoi tabi o.

Optimist's picture
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Optimist commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 9:13am

Its a bad time to travel, but if you have to go make sure your travel insurance covers Pandemic as only about half the companies do so.

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 11:20am

So looking like coronavirus won't be contained and we will all likely be exposed at some time before a vaccine is developed.

Without getting over the top training exercise in Japan I believe.

https://twitter.com/CarlHerberger/status/1231628241334566913

Not sure I would travel with young kids at this time.

Risks to name a few, infection, medical care if infection rates take off would you get care before a local etc and its costs, insurance coverage all good until you claim, getting caught in lockdowns, isolation areas, getting back into Australia while infected.

Of course there is much more than above with infection rates expanding and the much about the virus still largely unknown.

mundies's picture
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mundies commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 2:46pm

Thanks everyone.
I focus - looks like they are training for the Zombie apocalypse not a coronavirus pandemic....
Just on the phone with a 40 minute wait to my travel insurance (the one I get with a CBA credit card - brokered by Covermore and underwritten by Zurich). I'll check about being covered in a Pandemic and to what extent / what exclusions, the fine print says I'm covered in a pandemic but the devil's in the detail. I'd also like to know when I can cancel and get reimbursed ie what level of advisory warning. I'm inclined to not go but want as much factual info prior to making this call.
I just heard that any quarantine has been increased from 2 to 4 weeks, if my family and I were quarantined for 4 weeks on top of a 2 week trip then even if we are all healthy that's a big hit for my business to take....
Zenagain, thanks for your kind offer of assistance with email for native speaker (your wife?), much appreciated. May Huey and Ullr smile upon you for the rest of your days!

mundies

mundies's picture
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mundies commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 3:04pm

Just spoke to travel insurance company. Slippery bastards are masters of double speak. I'm sure I read I had cover in a pandemic but actually there is no cover, not even medevac. No hospital cover, trip cancellation. Nothing.

mundies

Distracted's picture
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Distracted commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 6:06pm

Mundies, I reckon you are the tip of the iceberg over the coming weeks/months as other people heading overseas will all now be closely checking their insurance as well.
Bit like a house of cards at the moment, see that Fly365 the online flight booking company went bankrupt the other day due to the virus impacting bookings.

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mundies commented Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020 at 7:33pm

Yeah I'm pretty close to brushing it. Rescheduling flights to next February will cost my family of 4 about $1,200 I reckon (from a quick Jetstar website search), so the total flight cost of $2,200 won't be totally lost. Tokyo Hotels are refundable, just my snow accommodation might also be a write off and thats $1,900. So if it costs me $3k to cancel with a view to a Japan snow trip next year, mitigate the risk of my family's health plus impact to my business with any quarantine fuck around hey that's not too bad in my book. Got a clear calendar for the next two weeks so looking where to go for the next local swell.... Plus clear the work backlog a bit more than I thought I could. Boom.

mundies

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mundies commented Thursday, 27 Feb 2020 at 11:41pm

$1,600 later I've changed OOL - NRT flights to March 2021, got all accommodation refunded and eyeing off a pulse of swell on the mid north NSW coast next week. Thank you Swellnet Brains Trust. Ben - thanks for creating this crusty circle.

mundies

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Thursday, 27 Feb 2020 at 11:59pm

Onya Mundies. Shame but what price do you put on health?

Hopefully it'll be dumping down next season in contrast to this one.

Having said that, Naeba got 20cm last night.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 5:20am

sounds like the smart thing to do Mundies.

GONAD_MAN's picture
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GONAD_MAN commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 7:36am

Don't risk it, for a biscuit.

mundies's picture
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mundies commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 8:58am
Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 2:45pm

The warnings/ precautionary measures appear to have gone up a notch in recent days. The focus very much on containment. You’ll hopefully get better snow next year anyway, Mundies. There’s been dumps here and there but numbers are way down, and there’s been lots of warming in between making things less than ideal

mundies's picture
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mundies commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 4:21pm

Thanks Clivus. Yes i figured that. From reports this season has been well below average. Not that hard to walk past really...
I imagine the response from the Japanese Govt will be coloured by the upcoming Summer Olympics as well, so they might go next level - Nippon style...

mundies

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 7:32pm

All schools are closed here from Monday till the end of the month, public gatherings, sporting events even tomorrow nights nomikai (piss up) has been cancelled. No snow, Disneyland closed.

This virus sucks.

Good waves today though. 3-4ft, offshore, only 3 of us out. Water seems to have warmed a tad too.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Mr Nobody's picture
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Mr Nobody commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 7:54pm

Well this is all a bit annoying. My wife and I booked a trip to Japan for 2nd week of May. Booked it almost a year ago. I wonder how things will be then?

It sounds a bit selfish to put it like that I guess. Better than people dealing with the virus...

kaiser's picture
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kaiser commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 9:28pm

If it’s any comfort, by the 2nd week of May you might have as much chance of getting it in Oz as you would in JPN

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 9:33pm

You might luck into some deals, Nobody. I suspect tourism will take a hit and they’ll be keen to welcome you.

Well played today, Zen. Looking smaller with less favorable winds for the weekend (at least closer to Tokyo).

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frog commented Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 10:17pm

Overseas travel at the moment is not just about the possibility of getting sick but also what could happen if you or a family member is pulled out of queue at the airport cause you have a temperature. You could end up in no mans land of quarantine or in some makeshift fever clinic unable to travel not cause of your state of health but because you have tested positive and are no allowed on a plane. Imagine being in dubai or a 3rd world country for weeks with no way out...

Frogg

Mr Nobody's picture
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Mr Nobody commented Saturday, 29 Feb 2020 at 12:14am

Frog, that's probably the main issue we are concerned about. If we find ourselves not being able to return to Oz, then it would complicate work commitments etc. It's just something you don't want to have to deal with. We have some accommodation & arrangements etc that need to be paid for in the next week or so too, which we don't want to drop money on and then have to forfeit.

Still way down on the scale compared to what others might be dealing with, but its our own reality....