Updates

This is an archive of past updates. Please visit the home page for the most up-to-date information from OIST.

Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo last night announced that seven prefectures will adopt emergency measures for four weeks to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Elementary, junior high, and high schools have been asked to close. Kindergartens and childcare facilities can remain open, subject to strict disinfection requirements.

The Prime Minister wants people to stop using restaurants, cafés and to avoid crowded areas wherever possible. People have been told not to travel within Japan, especially between prefectures with high rates of infection. Many mainland universities have moved to remote working, and the University of Tokyo campus is now inaccessible to the public.

Okinawa Prefecture was not included in the emergency measures announced yesterday, but the number of confirmed cases of infection in Okinawa has increased to 39. Elementary, junior high and high schools in Okinawa have been closed until April 21.

OIST WORKING

  • OIST expects to sustain its mission and output, through these challenges. The breadth of our scientific research will be carrying on during this period and we have numerous COVID-19 related research projects which are also advancing.
  • Plans are ready, if we need them, to take care of all critical tasks on campus (like animal welfare, managing long term experiments, site maintenance).
  • We will sustain our administrative services through a mix of agreed on-campus and ‘home office’ work.
  • Our graduate education also carries on, with direct teaching for small-size groups (fewer than ten), and teaching and supervision can also be delivered online in the period ahead.

MEASURES TO SUPPORT OIST OPERATIONS

  • CDC is Operational

The CDC and SAP are both operational and caring for your children. This is consistent with the policy in place in Onna Village, where the Onna Kindergarten is also operating normally (with added precautionary measures for infection control). To reduce any risk of cross-infection between these two important local facilities, we now require parents whose children attend sessions at both centers to use only one.

The CDC leadership is writing to parents with regular updates and this will continue.

Today, we were advised that a family member of a child in Kafuu classroom had reported symptoms of concern. There is no confirmation of COVID-19 infection, but this child has nonetheless been kept at home. Given this development, we are closing our Kafuu classroom for 2 weeks starting from tomorrow (4/9/2020).   If your child is in this classroom, we are very sorry, but we will be unable to provide childcare during the next two weeks.  Siblings of those in Kafuu class need also to be excluded. Based on current information and a thorough assessment by the leadership, health and safety, and medical advisors, we do not consider it necessary to close other CDC classes, but you may choose to keep your children at home for additional reassurance.

  • ‘Home Office’ Working To Be Implemented More Widely for Two Weeks from Monday

From Monday April 13, 2020 we will ask OIST managers to arrange more ‘home office’ working within their sections.

Significantly increased ‘home office’ working will be in place for the next two weeks, and then reviewed. Having more of our staff working on a ‘home office’ basis will strengthen the social distancing measures required.

‘Home Office’ work is manager approved. Italso  requires use of an OIST-issued device with an agreed level of IT Security.

Our HR team is finalizing arrangements with Temp Agencies to permit ‘Home Office’ working by Temp Staff whose work is  supervised by OIST managers. We will write to your managers with HR and IT guidance on ‘Home Office’ work supervision.

  • Home Quarantine and Your Health

OIST home quarantine requirements remain strictly in place, as described on the www.oist.jp/covid-19 web pages. We have asked managers to report to us each week the number of OIST colleagues who are at home because they are unwell with coronavirus-like symptoms, or who are away from work due to travel or other circumstances.

Where colleagues observe precautionary home quarantine you may notice a change in staffing or levels of service. This is unavoidable and we appreciate your understanding. For example, our Goods Acceptance Inspection team will be closed for a while.  All goods will be received by our Disaster Prevention Center, and shall be picked up by the requester at the loading dock in Lab1, level B.  The Supply Store will be kept operating by our vendor without OIST staff.  The internal mail service will be suspended so that all internal mails must be handled by senders themselves.

You cannot attend OIST if you, or a member of your household, has traveled outside Okinawa recently. You must observe fourteen days home quarantine.

Please follow the healthcare guidance at www.oist.jp/covid-19 taking special note of your temperature and respiratory health. All members of OIST are encouraged to do this. You should remain away from work if you have any symptom like cough, cold, sore throat, high temperature or headache.

The guidance we have issued on social distancing and infection prevention remain more important than ever. We now need all of you to avoid cafés, restaurants, bars, and crowded areas, wherever you can. Okinawa’s Governor today made the same appeal. Please do not take unnecessary journeys. Practice rigorous social distancing everywhere possible. Handwashing and use of alcohol-based sanitizer is essential.

  • On-Campus Events, Visits and Workshops for External Visitors

Our assessment is that on-campus events and workshops, visits and concerts/exhibitions are unlikely to be permitted until the next academic year. To enable clear planning, provide certainty for our guests and business partners, and to use OIST time and resources carefully, we have confirmed the period of postponement is extended from April 29, 2020 through to August 31, 2020.

The OIST corona@oist.jp email address remains available for any questions or concerns you have.

With best wishes to you and your families, and in appreciation of the supportive and resilient community of scientists and staff we are fortunate to have here at OIST.

Many of our neighbors in Okinawa will be observing Shimi Festival in the days ahead. This celebration of ancestors is determined by the lunar calendar. Many Okinawans – with their relatives – will be visiting tombs to pray for their family’s health and well-being.

In keeping with coronavirus infection prevention advice, the Okinawa Prefecture Government has asked families to consider much smaller gatherings this year. Those who might usually travel to Okinawa from outside of the islands for Shimi Festival have been discouraged from doing so. International travelers are already prohibited.

Should any OIST staff member observe Shimi Festival with close family members or relatives who have traveled from mainland Japan, we would like you to home quarantine for fourteen days before you return to the laboratory or office. Please speak with your line manager about a home working arrangement due to quarantine requirements.

OIST wishes you and your family good health and sends respectful good wishes at this time of Shimi.

Earlier today the COVID-19 management response team at OIST escalated infection prevention measures. We are one step away from ‘critical business only’ on campus, which would mean that most work takes place remotely. At present, however, our operations are continuing and the situation off campus remains unchanged by the Okinawa Prefectural Government. 

With effect from the end of Friday 3 April, 2020:

  • Business travel by OIST staff to other parts of Japan is prohibited unless special permission is given in writing by a senior executive member of the COVID-19 management group (President, Provost, Chief Operating Officer). If any colleague is required to undertake critical business in mainland Japan (and a virtual meeting cannot be supported) they must observe 14 days home quarantine before returning to OIST. No member of OIST faculty, leadership, staff or community will be exempt from this requirement. 
  • We also advise that from the end of Friday, no further business meetings - even off campus - should be held with visitors from the Japanese mainland, unless they have previously observed fourteen days of quarantine in Okinawa, and are symptom free.
  • If a member of your household, or any visitor to your home, has traveled from the Japanese mainland you are at heightened risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection unless fourteen days quarantine and monitoring for symptoms have passed. You must declare this to your manager if it applies to you, and you will need to seek their agreement that you can work from home.
  • We know that serious family emergencies could necessitate travel from Okinawa to other parts of Japan. This will be permitted with manager approval, but home quarantine for fourteen days will still be required upon return. You can work from home where approved, or can use carer, personal or emergency leave to cover your absence.
  • As we have said previously, any personal leisure travel is very strongly discouraged. Tourist amenities and accommodation even within the Okinawa Prefecture receive visitors from mainland Japan, bringing a heightened risk of infection. If you ignore this advice, undertake leisure travel, and subsequently require home quarantine, you will not be eligible for any form of paid leave if home working is not approved. If you have no personal leave remaining, you will have to take unpaid leave.

Adopting many of the steps outlined here puts OIST in a different position from the rest of Okinawa. We cannot alter the approach currently in force on the rest of the island and know there are many inconsistencies as soon as colleagues leave our campus. However, within OIST we want to take every step possible to minimize infection risk, taking account of relevant public health data and advice.

Rules banning external visitors to the OIST campus now extend to family members and friends. Do not bring your family members or friends into OIST administrative buildings and laboratories.

Home quarantine is a serious measure which must be undertaken seriously. We have been concerned to receive reports of partial or careless observation of home quarantine by a minority of OIST staff, post-docs, graduate students or interns, and the institution will not hesitate to address this and apply sanctions, which could include removal from OIST provided accommodation, or colleagues being found to be in breach of their contract of employment.

Section managers are now encouraged to devise trials of remote working by all members of staff, not just those who are home working because they are quarantined or in vulnerable groups (older people, those with medical conditions, pregnant).

Managers should also ask staff to complete this form when starting home quarantine. This form can also be downloaded from the Health and Safety web page. We require managers to advise the Health and Safety Office (koji.fukuoka@oist.jp) , on a weekly basis, of the number of staff in their section who are observing home quarantine (1) because they have health symptoms of concern, or (2) because of another infection prevention reason.

Social distancing and rigorous hygiene measures remain vital if OIST is to continue its operations in the period ahead. Colleagues can be reassured that – in the event of further escalation to ‘critical business only’ – we will provide a full business day of advance notification, to allow staff to retrieve essential belongings and appropriate resources.  So far 17 Research Units have agreed critical business plans which will permit, for example, care for animals, sustaining long-term experiments, maintaining research assets, or allowing urgent COVID-19 and healthcare related research.

Dr. Gruss chaired a further meeting of the COVID-19 Management Group at OIST this morning in response to reports overnight of a sharply rising number of cases in Japan and the 5 confirmed cases in Okinawa. Here are the key points:

  • Most international business travel to and from OIST has already stopped. Some absolutely essential travel (returning members of the institution) could still take place by special agreement, but this is now most unlikely. Should any cases arise there will be double quarantine at the port of entry in Japan for fourteen days, followed by fourteen days here. New hires are now subject to country specific lockdowns and cannot travel. In the unlikely event of an incoming colleague even being permitted to travel in the weeks ahead, they will subject to two-stage quarantine. People offered jobs by OIST have been advised that their start date may be postponed in response to the global pandemic and current travel prohibitions.
  • The Governor of Okinawa Prefecture has advised all Okinawan residents not to travel, even within Japan. In the vast majority of cases, domestic business travel by OIST staff should not take place. OIST members who make plans for personal travel elsewhere in Japan (with the exception of family emergencies or urgent personal business) are very strongly advised not to do so. You may be required to home quarantine for fourteen days before being permitted access to the OIST campus when returning to Okinawa. Where home quarantine is required because of your personal leisure travel or any other non-essential travel within Japan, this quarantine period will not be eligible for special paid leave.
  • Colleagues may already know that the COVID-19 virus can prompt serious bacterial infection of the lungs and other organs in the most severe cases. Those over 65, or who have pre-existing medical conditions, are most vulnerable. Any colleague at OIST who is over 65 years old, who has a pre-existing medical condition, or is pregnant can remain at home. Please inform your manager if applicable. If you would like to work from home for any other reason, please feel free to speak with your manager who will be supportive of these requests. If you would like assistance with this, please email corona@oist.jp. OIST has also arranged for the Health Center to offer additional screening and protection to those in the high-risk categories, including pneumococcal vaccination for colleagues over 65 where requested and agreed by a clinician.
  • Our ongoing preparation in the event of the closure of all non-critical OIST facilities and operations is well advanced. A comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (In Event of Closure) section is being added to www.oist.jp/covid-19 and on Tuesday 31 March 2020, at 1 p.m. there will be another all-staff meeting via Zoom, where the Provost and OIST Doctor will share updates on this planning, and answer your questions.
  • Faculty-led groups are also advancing plans to assist local communities in Okinawa by applying OIST’s scientific expertise and laboratory capability.
  • The Child Development Center leadership team continues to write to parents and carers with regular updates and advice, and the Ganjuu Wellbeing Service has recently circulated information to help support us all. This is posted on both the OIST website and TIDA, and Ganjuu staff are available for consultation by email.

The corona@oist.jp email address is always available to address personal questions and concerns. www.oist.jp/covid-19 contains all advice we have provided to date. OIST remains operational: please keep taking the steps we have asked you to adopt – both at work and on any essential trips within the wider community – to ensure social distancing.

Thank you for your continuing care, support and vigilance and we will send the next Town Hall Zoom meeting invitation on Monday. Keep an eye on email and the website over the weekend and we will keep you posted if anything changes.

Thank you to more than 600 of you who joined virtual staff meetings at the end of last week. Today the President chaired the regular meeting of the COVID-19 Management Group. At present, OIST remains operational – with research, education and other business including the CDC carrying on. However, should there be a case of sickness caused by a confirmed COVID-19 infection within OIST, or a rapid rise in cases with COVID-19 symptoms within the OIST community, this situation will change.

Here are key updates from this morning’s meeting:

  • There have been three additional cases of COVID-19 infection confirmed in Okinawa, all of them in Naha City. The risk of wide community transmission is clearly greater, though not yet evidenced. If OIST is to continue its scientific research and teaching – and minimize more drastic disruption to our lives and work – we need your help and co-operation. Our advice on infection prevention is more important than ever. Use of disinfectants, effective and regular hand washing, and awareness of general health and body temperature are all essential.
  • Do not come to work if you have a cough or cold symptoms. Stay at home. Contact your manager by email or telephone and agree home working. Managers have been asked to support this.
  • OIST needs the whole community to be exemplary in taking sensible steps which can preserve our current working environment and protect our health. We want to keep our scientific work and teaching, professional support and community services open. This now requires much stronger advice on social distancing.
    • Laboratories and offices, the CDC and support centers, remain open, undertaking their work. However, within the workplace, please take extra care to avoid unnecessary close contact. Try to keep at least a meter apart from colleagues wherever you can.
    • Do not hold meetings of more than ten people. Try to avoid smaller meetings in cramped spaces.
    • Avoid group lunches and try to avoid food queues. Eat on your own if you can. Throughout April the cafeteria and restaurant will be closed to accommodate new vendors, and there will be expanded bento services.
    • We know this is difficult in a campus community, within offices and our CDC – but please avoid all non-essential social contact on campus, in the OIST village, and in the wider community. We advise you to avoid crowded areas, restaurants and bars. Keep your distance from people when shopping, where you can. This is not a pleasant situation to be in, but it is one being shared by societies across the world.
    • We strongly advise against all personal travel. If you plan to travel in Golden Week, please review these arrangements. There is a serious risk of quarantine upon return.

We recognize inconsistencies in this advice, especially where work spaces remain open and where OISTers gather and learn together. However, we need to make social distancing a habit now. In the drastic event of a ‘lockdown’, social distancing would become mandatory in all environments.

It is simply not possible to say how long this global pandemic will last. Measures likely to be required in Okinawa are hard to predict. We will do all we can to keep you fully informed in a timely manner.

Policies which remain in place at OIST include our very strict approach to visitors and international travel. Japan now has increased national border enforcement measures for all overseas travelers. Units are permitted to meet the cost of associated quarantine requirements for their people at their port of entry into Japan where relevant. Travelers should, however, be advised to expect further ‘home quarantine’ at OIST for a period of fourteen days.

Travel within Japan by OIST staff is for absolutely essential business, as advised previously. In the vast majority of cases, domestic travel should not take place.

We have listened to helpful feedback from our graduating students. The OIST Graduation Ceremony in May is postponed until next year. More than two thirds of those due to receive their degrees asked us to do this. In 2021 we will combine two graduating classes at a single ceremony, which we hope will be a fully inclusive celebration of achievement.

This week a small group of OIST scientists and leadership will discuss contributions our Institution can make to the healthcare and relevant scientific community in Okinawa. Steps include provision of resources, where possible, and specific expertise. We will publicize and broadcast this session via Zoom and take email questions and suggestions while it takes place.

In addition, the team at our excellent Ganjuu Wellbeing Service in Lab 4 will be offering community-wide support and advice on dealing with individual or family anxiety caused by this situation in the days to come.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and your colleagues. Thank you for your work and for your understanding.

Thank you for questions and comments received since we issued our updated advice on international and national travel, and infection prevention. Please do not hesitate to raise queries from your unit or division (about, for example, scheduled business visitors; what constitutes ‘essential’ international business travel; or whether to advance new business travel plans within Japan). In nearly all cases we are recommending caution and discouraging travel.

Questions submitted so far have related mostly to OIST family members or personal guests visiting or returning from overseas. Anyone who has traveled from outside Japan is now expected to ‘home quarantine’ for fourteen days, to minimize risk that they, or those close to them, might bring COVID-19 to OIST. This means that you and others in your household will have to follow the same precautionary steps as the family member, co-occupant or guest who has been overseas. You will need to agree home working where appropriate with your manager.

You should also contact the OIST Health Center by email or telephone should you, other family members, or your visitors, experience any symptoms of concern while in ‘home quarantine’ over the fourteen day period.

Senior colleagues and the team here in Communication and Public Relations are here to help and advise as needed. I wish you all well, and thank you sincerely for your patience, understanding and cooperation in these really extraordinary circumstances.

There have been no cases of COVID-19 in our community, and Okinawa remains one of the least affected parts of Asia, with only three confirmed infections and effective containment measures. The reduced impact of coronavirus recently prompted the Okinawa government to announce that schools will re-open earlier than planned. However, maintaining this situation requires sustained commitment by everyone living and working here. Infection prevention measures, and making changes to our business and travel, can help ensure that we are doing all we can to minimize risk to ourselves and the rest of the island community.

For this reason OIST is today taking additional steps and issuing new advice following the international spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The global situation is ever-changing, but you will be aware that an increasing number of countries are introducing ‘lockdowns’ – with travel restrictions and strict quarantine requirements.

In response to the serious disruption and spread of infection outside of Japan:

  • International business or private visits to OIST should be strongly discouraged. Visitors who are already in transit will require assessment by the OIST Medical Center upon arrival, and we are introducing a ‘home quarantine’ period of fourteen days for all travelers (staff and visitors) traveling to OIST from outside of Japan with immediate effect.
  • International business travel by OIST staff is strongly discouraged until further notice. OIST will cover any unit or divisional costs incurred by cancellation of overseas business travel. If you do opt to travel for absolutely essential overseas business, please note that you will be required to 'home quarantine' upon your return to OIST for a period of fourteen days. 
  • OIST community members (staff, their partners and families) returning to OIST, or visiting from abroad, will be required to ‘home quarantine’ for fourteen days with immediate effect. We request that you review personal and guest travel plans and plan journeys outside of Japan only if they are absolutely essential.

'Home quarantine’ means living separately from the OIST community to the fullest possible extent and avoiding any unnecessary contact until your health status is clear. Do not come into buildings and offices on campus. You can undertake home working where agreed with your manager. Friends or colleagues can assist with buying food and other essentials or pharmacy supplies – please ask for support. Do not use cafes, restaurants or social spaces on campus or in our neighboring community. Data shows that COVID-19 has an especially serious impact on older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions. People in these categories should exercise particular care and avoid public spaces.

We will separately circulate advice which relates to incoming interns and new graduate students. This will be issued shortly, following consultation with the Graduate School.

In relation to business travel within Japan:

  • Please avoid national travel other than absolutely essential business trips. Discussions with Ministries and the Cabinet Office will have to be undertaken in Tokyo and travel for this purpose will continue (under review). If you have traveled outside of Okinawa within other parts of Japan please monitor your health for fourteen days. If you experience a fever of 37.5 degrees or more or have cold symptoms such as coughing please refrain from going to work and seek medical advice.

VP CPR can advise on the necessity of traveling within Japan if you are unsure what constitutes essential travel. You should not travel for scientific talks, seminars, regular meetings or peer engagement events – these should, wherever possible, be fulfilled virtually. 

You will note that Grano is to cease selling food on ‘open’ display in accordance with public health guidelines on buffets and uncovered food.

Please remember: frequent and proper hand washing; use of disinfectant gels and wipes; and covering your mouth and nose with a handkerchief, cloth or sleeve when coughing all help to contain the spread of viruses.

This is a fast-moving situation, and we know many people in our community will have questions. We are working to answer those queries as quickly as we can, and we are grateful for your patience at this challenging time. We are monitoring the situation closely and will update you with any changes to our advice. We are proud of our OIST community and grateful for your care and concern for others.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday announced a series of national measures to assist with containment of the COVID-19 coronavirus. These included a request that all elementary, junior high and high schools close, and do not reopen until after the Spring Break. I appreciate that this will have a serious impact on many working families with school age children.

Parents should know that – worldwide – the children who acquire and develop symptoms from COVID-19 have coped extremely well. Clinical data confirms that the impact of this virus can be far more severe on the elderly and those in poor health. Serious cases affecting children have been exceptionally rare. Of course, young people can still spread infection to adults and classmates. Closing schools is consistent with the government’s other steps in relation to travel, large gatherings, cancellation of public events, and prevention of infection. Already many schools in Okinawa have confirmed closure next week.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has clarified that PM Abe’s request does not apply to day care centers for children, and after-school facilities for elementary school students. Furthermore, the rate of infection in Okinawa remains extremely low. So far, only three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed on Okinawa, with no new diagnosis in the past fortnight. Given this context, I have decided that the OIST Child Development Center will operate on the basis of business-as-usual until further notice. We will of course keep the situation under very careful ongoing review. The After School and Full Day After School Program (offered during CDC vacation periods) will also operate normally for children aged K-Grade 6.

Below is guidance for OIST managers and staff affected by elementary, junior high and high school closures. I realize that short-notice childcare responsibility will have an immediate impact on your ability to work normally. Special paid leave will, wherever possible, be granted by managers to parents and carers who have no alternative option for the care of children whose schools have closed before the scheduled Spring vacation. OIST does not ordinarily permit home working, but requests will be considered by managers in these exceptional circumstances.

At OIST we have aligned all our actions with the official public health and government advice. We have already cancelled visits to campus, postponed many conferences and workshops, halted travel to China, and advised caution in relation to travel through other areas which are seriously affected. Our prevention measures on campus now require essential business visitors to answer questions at the Welcome Desk which relate to their recent respiratory health and travel, and they are also informed of the measures we require them to take to minimize spread of infection.

Meeting participants at OIST (including internal-only gatherings) are encouraged to thoroughly wash hands before entering large conference room spaces, where disinfectants will be provided by the OIST Health Center.  All staff and essential business visitors are asked to undertake thorough hand washing, use of disinfectant gels and wipes, and covering of the mouth and nose with a handkerchief, cloth or sleeve when coughing. Many people opt to wear a mask when in public spaces. This assists by preventing direct touching of the mouth and nose. We recently took steps to replenish supplies of disinfectant and face masks, and placed orders for additional quantities. Thank you for your understanding, and we will of course work hard to support you and keep you closely informed during this challenging period.

GUIDANCE FOR MANAGERS AND STAFF

  • Where colleagues have no alternative childcare option, special paid leave can be granted to OIST staff. This will allow them to care for children whose schools have closed. This period begins immediately and will cover all days up to the start of your child’s regularly scheduled school spring vacation.
  • Special paid leave is not automatic. It must be approved by the employee’s immediate line manager and recorded in writing.
  • Half day special paid leave can also be granted, where this assists with childcare responsibilities.
  • Wherever possible, colleagues are asked to take all possible steps to minimize impact on the workplace. People whose partners are also OIST employees may be able to share their childcare responsibilities between them. Those who enjoy the support of wider family members may also have short-term options to assist in balancing work and home.
  • OIST does not ordinarily permit home working. In these exceptional circumstances, where feasible, home working will be permitted with manager approval. Staff should seek advice and agreement from their manager on the nature of tasks they can undertake, and OIST will provide – where needed – laptop and VPN access support to ensure information security.
  • Any colleague who works from home with the agreement of their line manager will not be expected or required to work overtime. Overtime claims in these circumstances will not usually be accepted.
  • During the Spring Break school vacation, special paid leave for school aged children will not be approved. Normal annual leave should be used for this.

In response to national guidelines on the COVID-19 coronavirus, OIST is now adopting the following measures:

  • General visits to OIST, including large school tours, community visits, large delegations, conferences and workshops, and cultural events open to the general public are cancelled or postponed until April 29 and events beyond that date are under review.
  • Essential visitors to campus are now asked questions at the Welcome Desk which relate to their recent respiratory health and travel activity, and they are also informed of the measures required to minimize spread of infection.
  • Meeting participants at OIST (including at internal-only gatherings) should be encouraged to thoroughly wash hands before entering large conference room spaces, where disinfectants will be provided by the OIST Health Center.  All staff and essential business visitors are asked to undertake thorough hand washing, use of disinfectant gels and wipes, and covering of the mouth and nose with a handkerchief, cloth or sleeve when coughing. Many people opt to wear a mask when in public spaces. This assists by preventing direct touching of the mouth and nose.
  • OIST staff are asked to reconsider business trips and instead to explore options for virtual meetings. Some meetings in Tokyo have already been canceled. This is consistent with the latest Japanese government advice on COVID-19, which asks people seriously to consider their travel plans and the need to be in crowded environments. Neighboring international hub airports outside of China remain operational, with flights to and from Okinawa continuing at Taipei Taoyuan, Seoul Incheon and Hong Kong International. You should take account of the sharp increase in infection in these territories and seriously assess the need to travel.
  • Please rest assured that in the event of COVID-19 infection within the OIST community, the University has already undertaken an assessment of organizational impact, and policies are in place to advise staff should there be any need for revised working arrangements. These will be supportive and clear. In the meantime, please take care to observe preventative guidelines issued to date, and should you experience any symptoms of concern, contact the OIST Clinic and stay away from the workplace until your condition has been fully assessed.

The Japanese government has updated its public advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and issued new guidelines for consultation with Returnee and Contact Centers.

People who

  • have symptoms of a cold or a fever of 37.5 degrees or above for more than 4 days or
  • need to keep taking medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol (acetaminophen), and have strong fatigue and/or respiratory problems

are required to consult with Chubu Public Health Center (Returnee and Contact Center) at 098-938-9701. For non-Japanese speakers the number is 0570-050-235.

Anyone who has experienced persistent symptoms for 4 days or more should call the relevant number for advice.

Pregnant women, the elderly, people with diabetes, or those who have suffered from heart failure, respiratory disease, who use dialysis, immunosuppressants and anticancer drugs, are at increased risk. They should seek consultation if symptoms persist for 2 days and more.

We advised last week that a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in Okinawa.

Proper hand washing, use of disinfectant gels and wipes, and covering your mouth and nose with a handkerchief, cloth or sleeve when coughing, all helps to contain the spread of viruses. Many people opt to wear a mask when in public spaces. The Government asks – if you have cold symptoms such as fever or a cough – that you refrain from going out to schools, workplaces, and that you measure body temperature daily if symptoms persist.

As you know, OIST has already halted all business travel to and from China and has issued preventative advice to those who had to undertake essential personal travel in affected areas. As there is now a confirmed case in Okinawa, we have implemented heightened hygiene protocols on campus, which include disinfection of door knobs, elevator buttons, handrails and so forth.

The Conference and Workshops Section and Office of the Provost are working to assess the forthcoming academic event schedule. Arrangements have been made to support ‘virtual’ participation by video link where guests are prevented or choose not to travel from overseas. Updated guidance will be issued to conference and workshop hosts.

At present, international air transit hubs in Japan and in Taipei and Hong Kong are operating normally for connecting travel to countries other than China, although additional quarantine and screening measures are in place.

Currently the Child Development Center at OIST remains open. The CDC leadership team has written directly to parents and carers and will keep families updated on the situation as necessary.

Thank you for your vigilance in ensuring that we are doing all we can to respond appropriately.

References:

OIST Health Center
Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare

A case of coronavirus (COVID-19) has now been identified in Okinawa. We would like to share the latest public health information issued by the Okinawa authorities, and to remind you of preventive measures which can help reduce the spread of infection. 

Okinawa Prefecture requires people who may have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever with a temperature of more than 37.5 degrees, respiratory symptoms such as coughing, or anyone who has had close contact with infected people or has symptoms after recent travel to areas where the virus has spread, to contact the designated Counselling Center by telephone:

Japanese speakers: Chyubu public health center (098-938-9701) or the prefectural health division (098-866-2215)
Non-Japanese speakers: 0570-050-235

Proper hand washing, use of disinfectant gels and wipes, and covering your mouth and nose with a handkerchief, cloth or sleeve when coughing, all helps to contain the spread of viruses. Many people opt to wear a mask when in public spaces.

If you are experiencing any symptoms which concern you please contact the OIST Clinic or call the numbers provided above.

As you know, OIST has halted all business travel to and from China and issued preventative advice to those who had to undertake essential personal travel in affected areas. As there is now a confirmed case in Okinawa, we have implemented heightened hygiene protocols on campus, which include disinfection of door knobs, elevator buttons, handrails and so forth.

Currently the Child Development Center remains open. The leadership team will of course keep parents and carers updated on the situation as necessary. 

Thank you for your vigilance in ensuring that we are doing all we can to respond appropriately.