Regarding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s dramatic television broadcast on Feb. 29, in which he asked the public to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus, as a foreigner (I am an Ethiopian) living among the locals, I would like to point out two areas where the government needs to urgently work on besides quarantining travelers, especially for foreign residents who do not understand the local language and system well enough.

Those areas are making accessible information available in foreign languages and the provision of prevention materials.

There is currently a severe shortage of masks, medicated wet tissues, toilet paper, kitchen paper towels and anything consumable that has to do with pulp. Those items are nowhere to be found in any convenience stores at the moment.

The government should do more to spread reliable information to non-Japanese and help get them the supplies they need.

Fortunately, I was able to get a packet of masks and wet tissues from a local drugstore after keeping track of the news over the weekend.

On Sunday, I went to my nearest drugstore, which opens at 9 a.m. Despite waiting in line for an hour, I was unable to get what I needed since stocks were limited to 75 persons only.

The following day I went early and happened to be the 18th in line, and on that day the store’s stock was for 42 persons. Now I have a packet of 65 face masks, sufficient for over two months if I use one a day, Hopefully the world will figure out a solution before I need more.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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