In 2020, the world was hit by an unprecedented disaster – COVID-19. With 70 million confirmed cases, 1.6 million deaths, stagnant people, the global economy is in the worst recession since World War II…
Life is slowly recovering, but the coronavirus has undoubtedly been deeply imprinted in everyone’s memory. What will this memory leave for mankind in the end? Lockdown? Social distancing? Or is it a better response in the face of a new epidemic in the future?
From now on, The Paper International launched a series of reports on “Global Epidemic Record”, reviewing the joys and sorrows experienced by people in many countries in the past year, outlining the unprecedented picture of the world under the epidemic, and looking forward to where mankind and the earth will go.
In February, the “Diamond Princess” cruise ship broke out in Yokohama, Japan.
“Hello, I’m Professor Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease specialist at Kobe University Hospital in Japan. Today I am on the cruise ship ‘Diamond Princess’,’ and the crew on board is now suffering from widespread COVID-19. I was kicked off the ship without spending a full day, and I will tell you everything I saw on the boat.
On the evening of February 18, Kentaro Iwata, a famous Japanese infectious disease scientist who has traveled to China and many countries in Africa to participate in the fight against SARS (SARS) and Ebola, told the shocking hair on the cruise ship in the video he uploaded to social media. Now.
Just the day before yesterday, Kentaro Iwata was asked by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to disembark after boarding the cruise ship Diamond Princess to investigate the epidemic.
Iwata’s video has received millions of hits in 24 hours. In an interview with The Paper on February 19, he predicted that the novel coronavirus was likely to have spread on the ship on a large scale. Afterwards, it turned out that more than 700 people tested positive on the cruise ship Diamond Princess in the incident, 12 of whom died.
What was his motivation for getting on the boat and posting the video at first? What did he go through this year?
Recently, The Paper (www.thepaper.cn) interviewed the famous Japanese epidemiologist again. Try to find the answer to the above questions. The following is his oral statement.
[Oralist]: Kentaro Iwata
“Diamond Princess”: Japan must learn a lesson
After the Diamond Princess incident, although I was not under direct pressure, there were many indirect accusations and criticisms against me. From the perspective of some people, they want to maintain the honor of the Japanese government, and my videos and statements may be regarded as disrespect for the Japanese government. I admit this. Some people, especially conservatives, don’t like me to do this. Although they did not formally “punish” me, they also indirectly caused me some trouble, but this kind of thing is also predictable.
If I had such a chance again, I thought I would become a little smarter. What I did this time made some officials mad because I didn’t humblely respect my superiors and seniors because I was honest with everyone and said it when I saw something wrong, and some people didn’t like it and they wanted me to obey.
So if I encounter similar situations later, maybe I can take a better action or expression to “pretend” respect these people, and I can deal with things in a better way. However, I think my opinion is correct, and my assessment at that time has not changed so far.
As for my motivation, it is because the only place where a serious epidemic occurred in Japan in February was the Diamond Princess cruise ship. However, the Japanese government did not disclose what was going on on the cruise ship. They only disclosed the number of nucleic acid tests and the number of positive tests, but did not tell the world what exactly happened on the cruise ship. Is there an outbreak of the epidemic? This has become a secret. Infection control within the cruise ship is also a mystery, and no one has provided any information about it.
I’m not satisfied with this. Therefore, I talked to some officials of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to try to let me get on the boat to see it. What I see is a very chaotic infection control situation, which does not meet the standard of prevention and control standards at all.
Research models reconstructed after the fact also show that the infection control on cruise ships during the 14-day quarantine is insufficient. It is during this period that many people were infected with the virus, as evidenced by many officials, scientists and staff.
Without further protection, passengers on the cruise ship were allowed to land after 14 days, which were obviously not enough, and even some tourists showed symptoms of COVID-19 after returning to their own countries.
Looking back now, I think most of the 700+ infected people were infected before quarantine. There were a total of 3,700 people on the cruise ship, and I think more than 1,000 of them were actually infected.
Because many people are not tested, the data is low, and we now know that nucleic acid tests are not perfect, and the test results will be “false negative”. As a result, the actual number of people infected by COVID-19 inside cruise ships is much higher.
Since more than 10 people died of illness on the cruise ship, we must reflect on this very seriously. The US CDC took Japan’s lessons very seriously, and then there was a cluster infection on a cruise ship in California.
They took completely different actions with the Japanese government, quarantined all passengers and checked for a long time to ensure that they were not infected. So we should really learn from it.
The mystery of the epidemic in Japan: follow the crowd psychology to help fight the epidemic
Many people say that the epidemic in Japan is a mystery. Since the beginning of this year, although people inside and outside Japan think that the epidemic in Japan will get out of control, this has not happened so far.
If you come to Japan, you will find that most Japanese people abide by the rules and regulations very well, which has not happened in some European countries and the United States. Although Japan’s epidemic prevention and control is not perfect compared with China and South Korea, a “loose” atmosphere that can spread the epidemic has never existed in Japan.
This is not because the Japanese are smart and wise. It’s just because the Japanese are obedient, because there is such an atmosphere of epidemic prevention and control in society – so everyone follows the rules.
If we create an atmosphere in which everyone can do whatever they want, the Japanese epidemic will soon get out of control.
A few weeks ago, the Japanese government launched the “go out” plan to encourage people to travel, go shopping and eat. As a result, the number of confirmed cases in Japan increased significantly in December, as well as the number of severe cases and deaths.
From this point of view, we Japanese are not smart, and we just follow the environment, which is largely the embodiment of the Japanese’s herd mentality.
After nearly a year of lockdown and many control measures, like people in many parts of the world, the Japanese people are feeling exhausted.
I think we have to find a new way to cope with it, which I call the “relaxation engine” – relax in different ways. This is different from what we have done before.
For example, we used to relaxing ourselves and getting rid of stress by going out to party, dancing, traveling, eating, etc. Now that you might be staying home and eating with your family, rather than with a lot of people, you might go to walk around the park where no one is, go hiking in the suburbs, and watch movies at home.
There are many things you may do differently. At present, although we must change our way of life, we still have ways to enjoy life.
This is not the end of the world, and we have a lot of hope.
The resignation of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2020 was unexpected for many people. He is under great pressure because of the epidemic.
I’m not optimistic about the Japanese government, because they are not firm in the response to the epidemic, do not really make up their minds, and often think about it before and after thinking about it, and have too many concerns and containment.
That’s why I can’t see a better future. However, for the time being, I think the Japanese government may be a little better than the US government.
Fear makes people unable to face the reality.
In 2020, we lost a colleague, a professor of geriatrics at Kobe University, due to the novel coronavirus. Many of our colleagues have been infected while working on the front lines of the hospital, but most of them have recovered. Fortunately, my family and I have not been infected so far, but we are very worried that the virus may still come to your door – the epidemic is still spreading.
The most stressful thing I feel this year is to face the panic of people in the hospital and answer their questions. In the hospital, many nurses and doctors are really panicked, and rational communication and discussion are almost impossible.
Everyone is shouting and blaming each other. The people are also angry. People want to find some people who can be attacked, which I think is a manifestation of people trying to relieve stress.
I have written several books this year, including The Truth About COVID-19, How to Live in the Age of COVID-19, and more. I wrote the book to help people better understand COVID-19, and I emphasized that the right knowledge and information are the most important things to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Given that humans know much less about COVID-19 than expected, many people can’t control their fears that will undermine people’s understanding of the facts. They will become too pessimistic or optimistic. Both attitudes are wrong, so you need to have the courage to face the reality.
Today, people only look at what they want to see and listen to what they want to hear on the Internet. Some people say that a vaccine will be a miracle and solve all problems. Some people say that the vaccine is a government conspiracy.
The biggest misconception about COVID-19 is the imbalance in perception. Many people want a single answer. In fact, there is no single answer to what to do. The response to the epidemic depends entirely on the specific situation.
For example, if your community has a population of 1 million and only one or two confirmed cases, don’t worry too much. However, if your community has 1,000 cases, you must start worrying about it, so you must maintain certain isolation measures.
If there are thousands of infected people in your community, wearing a mask is no longer effective. You must stay at home. The most important thing is to understand the current situation in your community.
Personally, boarding the Diamond Princess cruise ship is my most unforgettable experience this year. Even though I was afraid of being infected myself, the experience at that moment was really the “highlight” of this year for me.
At present, I am always full of hope. I am a scientist. I have confidence in science. I hope that the research and development of new drugs, new vaccines and new strategies can continue.
However, I am not too optimistic, because such an attitude will turn science into a religion.
What to do in 2021 under the epidemic?
Although the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to 2021, the Japanese government has stressed that the Olympic Games will continue to be held so far.
I think although the competition is a good thing, I am not sure whether the Olympic Games should be held.
You can choose to host many competitions, but it doesn’t have to be held at the same time in the same place. The Olympics brought thousands of athletes from hundreds of countries and regions together in one place, which is completely contrary to the infectious disease prevention code. That’s why I don’t think the Olympic Games should be held.
In addition, the Japanese government also tried to invite audiences from all over the world to come. If this is true, the spread of the epidemic in Japan will be inevitable. I don’t think it’s a wise idea.
As for what COVID-19 will be like in relation to humanity in 2021 or in the far future, I think it will depend on vaccines first and we still have months to go before they become available.
Will this be a long night? I don’t know – the effectiveness of the vaccine remains to be seen.
Although the vaccine will be a “game changer”, we don’t know how much it can do. If the vaccine works, things will change dramatically. 2021 will be a very good year.
If the vaccine is not so effective, we will have to continue to endure the current situation.
The Japanese do not trust vaccines much, partly because of the lack of good education and communication, so many people are ignorant and lack trust in the Japanese government.
At present, we have seen more than 70 million people infected and more than 1.6 million people have died worldwide. The COVID-19 epidemic is undoubtedly the worst infectious disease in the 21st century to date.
While I don’t know how far the coronavirus pandemic will spread, I can be sure that there will be more people losing their lives in the future, and the world must be prepared for it, especially in African countries, which is very worrying. At present, the epidemic has not yet had a large impact on them, which may be next year or later. Happen.
To this end, we need more international cooperation. This time, we have not seen a lot of global cooperation in vaccines, and in other aspects, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have not played a good role.
I hope there will be a little progress next year, and I hope that the relationship between China and the United States can improve in 2021, so that the two countries can cooperate in the response to the pandemic.