KAWASAKI – Badges indicating that their holders have asthma or hay fever are proving popular in Japan amid the COVID-19 outbreak as more people face uncomfortable stares when coughing on trains or in other public places.
At variety store Epilyri in the city of Kawasaki, handmade badges and key rings featuring messages such as “I have hay fever,” “I have asthma” and “This cough isn’t contagious,” together with cute illustrations of animals, have been flying off the shelves. “Even when I’m wearing a face mask, I’m worried about what other people are thinking and I feel sorry,” said store owner Miwa Makino.
As someone who suffers from asthma, Makino herself knows firsthand what it’s like to be unable to stop coughing.
Her store has been flooded with orders since an incident in late February in which a person aboard a subway train in the city of Fukuoka pressed an emergency stop button after seeing another passenger coughing.
At the store, 30 to 40 of the badges and key rings have been sold each day.
Makino has asked her family and friends to help her make the products, but it has been difficult to meet the surging demand, she said. “For impatient customers who come to my shop, I make one for them immediately,” she said.
She advises customers to put the badges and key rings in places that are visible and easy for people to see.