Mask-wearing — anathema to many in the U.S. — is one reason why Japan has avoided the heavy coronavirus death tolls seen in many parts of the world, according to the government’s expert panel on the pandemic.
While face-coverings have sparked angry confrontations in some parts of the world and were initially dismissed as ineffective by the World Health Organization, they have long been part of everyday life in Japan. But they won’t be enough for the country to maintain its strong record on containing the virus.
As of Wednesday, Japan had confirmed more than 16,000 infections and about 850 deaths from the virus, by far the lowest figures among the Group of Seven major economies. But in a reminder that the crisis is far from over, an uptick in cases in Kitakyushu this week sparked enough concern for the government to send a team to investigate, public broadcaster NHK said.