• Kyodo

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About 60 percent of people in the nation who developed cold-like symptoms during the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic, between February and May, went to work despite a request by the government for them not to do so, a recent survey has found.

Of 1,226 people between the ages of 20 and 79 living in Tokyo and neighboring areas who responded to the survey, 82 said they had fevers and other cold-like symptoms that could have been early signs of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

In the online survey conducted in mid-May by a team led by Masaki Machida, an assistant professor at Tokyo Medical University, 62 percent of those who did not feel well said they went to work during the period, while 17 percent said they either stayed home or only went out to go to the hospital.

The survey showed that company employees and those with professions not seen as compatible with teleworking tended to go to work as usual despite the government's request, on Feb. 17, for people to rest at home if they were in poor health.

Medical associations had called for people feeling unwell to stay home for at least seven days after developing cold-like symptoms.

It also found people from Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures, three prefectures that do not share borders with Tokyo, were more inclined to go to the office even with cold-like symptoms, possibly because the number of COVID-19 infections was relatively low in those areas at the time.

"Staying at home when people are not feeling well is very important to avoid the spread of infections while continuing with economic activity," the team led by Machida said as it reported the survey results. "The social environment should be improved to make it easier for such people to get rest."

Of the 82 who showed cold-like symptoms, 71 percent said they had gone out to buy groceries and 21 percent dined out, while 6 percent said they went out for recreation and another 6 percent attended events.

Respondents were able to choose multiple answers. It is unknown whether any of them were infected with the novel coronavirus.

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