Aichi Prefecture, where two people have been confirmed as infected with the new coronavirus from China, is calling on non-Japanese speakers in the prefecture to use its free multilingual translation service when they need to communicate with others regarding the virus.
The Multilingual Call Center is available free of charge in nine languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
The call center can be accessed by visiting the website using a smartphone and pressing a link on the page. The service can also help introduce hospitals that offer support in English or Chinese.
An Aichi Prefectural Government official said the service was unique in that the prefecture was making it available for free to both tourists and tourism-related firms — including hotels, retailers and restaurants.
The official said the call center had already received a request from a hotel to translate a sign urging customers to let the hotel know if they are feeling unwell.
The prefectural government started the service last June in response to an expected surge in foreign tourists during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The service is available in five languages — English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese — for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Services in other languages are offered during business hours.
The prefecture notified more than 250 firms about the service in late January, and distributed leaflets that featured the QR code for the center’s website.
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