Japan is my favorite country to travel to — I love how different, yet totally modern and comfortable everything is; how everything is tiny and made to resemble an animal; and how there is no shame in being an adult male with a Hello Kitty keychain.
So, when I had the opportunity to visit for the second time, I didn’t think twice. I booked my ticket on Feb. 12, a couple weeks after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency and exactly one week after 3,600 passengers on the Diamond Princess began their quarantine in Yokohama, Japan.
It was apparent the coronavirus was spreading, but I wasn’t too worried, and I’m still not. As of March 7, WHO reported that 3,486 people had died from the virus (413 if you don’t include China). That makes for 349 people a week or just under 50 people a day, worldwide. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the current flu season has killed at least 22,000 people between Oct. 1, 2019 and Feb. 29, 2020 in the U.S. alone. That’s over 909 people a week and 132 people a day — at least. And that’s just the U.S.
That being said, the CDC has placed a level 2 warning on travel to Japan, which means travelers should “practice enhanced precautions.” It adds that “older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.” The CDC has also advised travelers to avoid nonessential long-haul flights.
After making it home, here’s what I wish I knew before I went and what anyone traveling to Japan during the outbreak should keep in mind.
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