Memos from Asia

Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic, Japanese Still Using Super Packed Trains

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Stuck in a jam-packed train is a common sight in Tokyo, Japan, and other major Asian cities.
Have you ever wondered what this is like during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Unbelievably, even as the number of people infected per day exceeds a record high, the Japanese are still commuting on crowded trains every day.

In Tokyo, the primary means of transportation is by train and few people use cars to get to work.
Office workers have no other choice but to take the train to work.

Tokyo, Japan, April 7, 2020 – Pedestrians wear face masks as a preventive measure during the new coronavirus outbreak at Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing.

An Instagram user posted a video in mid-July showing a packed train that looks the same as it did before the pandemic.

Japanese experts insist that it’s alright because there is no conversation

Tokyo, Japan, February 22, 2020 – Pedestrians wearing surgical mask to prevent infectious diseases walk in Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing.

Of course, many Japanese are anxious about taking a crowded train.

A doctor at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Japan pointed out in a TV show that long conversations with a small group of people are more risky than trains.

The experts at Riken point out that the frequent opening of the doors every time trains arrive at a station reduces the risk by increasing ventilation.

The problem is that infection in a crowded train is difficult to track down.
A case of infection on a crowded train would be recorded as an unknown route of transmission.

Study finds ‘high risk’ of infection among train passengers

Tokyo, Japan – May 08, 2020: Japanese people wearing face masks and keeping social distancing on the train due to Coronavirus Crisis, subway, metro

At the end of July, a paper assessing the risk of infection on high-speed trains in China was published.
The paper concludes that the risk of infection among train passengers is high, although the risk varies depending on the position of the seat and the length of time spent on the train.

In a crowded train, some people talk, some people cough, and even skin-to-skin contact with others often happens.
Is the risk really low for someone who rides this to work for an hour every morning?

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