Five more stories on how Japan is adjusting to the new normal under the shadow of the novel coronavirus:
- Responding to a request from the government, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have stopped accepting reservations for some international flights in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus variants. New reservations were suspended for all of ANA’s international flights to Japan and for JAL’s Japan-bound flights from Britain, Germany and France.
- Be afraid, COVID, be very afraid. Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, went into full battle mode Tuesday, earlier than scheduled, to research ways to combat the novel coronavirus. Its latest discovery: Wearing two face masks has more or less the same effect as donning one well-fitting nonwoven mask in reducing the spread of droplets. Take that, COVID-19!
- In Japan, convenience is king and getting tested for COVID-19 can be highly inconvenient. Part of the solution — as it is for a range of daily necessities in Tokyo — has become the humble vending machine. Seven such contraptions have now been set up around the capital region to dispense PCR testing kits at ¥4,500 ($40) a pop. Directions: Just spit and send.
- A Tohoku University professor and his team have developed a “biobattery-powered microneedle patch” that allows a vaccine to be absorbed into the blood fast, unlike currently available commercial patches, reports Eriko Yamakuma. It may take years to get approval for applying the tech to vaccines, but the prospect of injection-free inoculations is now within reach!
- No public-facing service in Japanese society can afford to rest on its laurels as the novel coronavirus pandemic scares away traditional customers — or followers, in the case of the nation’s 77,000 Buddhist temples. Monks are having to get creative, coming up with ideas such as online memorial ceremonies, Zen meditation apps and temple-led matchmaking services.
Thursday’s (and last Thursday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (30 or over): Tokyo 335 (279), Saitama 126 (123), Kanagawa 125 (138), Chiba 122 (107), Osaka 88 (81), Hokkaido 71 (66), Aichi 66 (68), Hyogo 58 (36), Miyagi 53 (10), Ibaraki 36 (37), Fukuoka 31 (37). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker