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Consumer consultations on coronavirus surge in Japan

JIJI

The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan said Thursday it had received at least 8,617 consultations related to the novel coronavirus by the end of March.

The center received no coronavirus-related consultations in December, but the number has since increased, reaching at least 6,271 in March, it said.

Consultations were mainly on the short supply of toilet paper and cancellation fees on tours, wedding ceremonies and sports gyms, the center said.

Since March, the center has been receiving consultations about apparent malicious business practices, including phone calls suggesting that tap water is contaminated with the virus.

A woman in her 70s living near Tokyo received a phone call in March in which she was told that tap water may contain the virus. The woman was asked about her address, according to the center.

In other cases, there was a suspicious phone call from a self-proclaimed waterworks bureau official offering to remove the virus from water pipes, according to the center. Another case involved a smartphone short message making a similar offer.

There have been no cases in which tap water has been contaminated with the virus, the center said.

The center warned that new methods to cheat consumers may appear, urging people not to listen to unfounded suggestions.

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