Japan Plans to Close Schools Nationwide in an Effort to Control Spread of Coronavirus

NIAID via flickr

We all know that when we send our kids to school during cold and flu season it’s only a matter of time before they come home with a runny nose, a cough or worse. Being in such close quarters with so many other kids and their teachers makes it really easy for germs to spread. Then, once the germs make it home, the illness often spreads through the entire family.

Now that coronavirus is spreading, countries are starting to take serious precautions. Take Japan, for example. The government has decided to close all elementary, junior high and high schools in the country. That’s a total of 34,847 schools that will be closed and 12.8 million students who won’t be going to school.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained why the government decided to close the schools.

“This is to prioritize the health and safety of the children and take precautions to avoid the risk of possible large-scale infections for many children and teachers who gather and spend hours together every day.”

There have been 890 cases of coronavirus so far in Japan. Of those cases, 705 of them were from a quarantined cruise ship. Obviously, like at a school, it’s easy for germs to spread among cruise ship passengers. So far there have been a total of 8 deaths in Japan.

How can we prevent the spread of coronavirus? World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus offers this advice.

“If I am asked to advise the communities to prevent this virus, I would give them the same advice as what you give to flu: wash your hands with water and soap, and also don’t rub your face, and also six feet distance.”

Tedros went on to say that while coronavirus is not the flu, the two viruses do have many things in common. Principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anne Schuchat, agrees. 

“Those everyday sensible measures that we tell people to do every year with the flu are important here. Covering your cough, staying home when you’re sick, and washing your hands.” 

Does it surprise you that Japan is closing schools in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus? Do you think other countries should or will follow this example?