Following renewed COVID-19 cases, many Japanese companies are temporarily closing their offices and stopping production as the country battles new waves of infections.
Leading automakers, including Toyota Corp and Daihatsu Motor Co, suspended production line shifts after some employees called in sick. Similarly, KFC Holdings Japan Ltd has been forced to shut down some restaurants, with employees moved to fill some gaps. Another company that is doing its bit to manage new waves of COVID-19 infection is Japan Post Holdings which has shut down nearly 200 mailing centers.
Japan’s COVID-19 cases have leapfrogged those of other countries, especially as it continues to battle new waves of BA.4 and BA.5 variants. In the last week, Japan has reported nearly 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases, and companies are now struggling to cope.
In an attempt to manage the situation, companies are beginning to implement COVID-19 protocols. According to the CFO of Subaru Corp, Katsuyuki Mizuma, the company has had to divide meal time into several slots. It has also asked all workers to sit in one direction and avoid talking during meal time. This is the company’s approach to fending off infections and work stoppages.
Will Japan’s past experience with Covid help it surmount current challenges?
In the past, Japan had had a remarkable and enviable record for its response to COVID-19, especially when other countries were forced to implement stiffer lockdown protocols amid skyrocketing death toll. For instance, Japan only reported 32,000 deaths during the height of the pandemic, a fraction of the death toll in the United States and Britain.
With the latest outbreak of new and highly infectious COVID-19 variants, it remains to be seen if Japan will take a flexible approach toward managing the breakout and limiting economic impact.
While the government continues to explore approaches to manage the current wave of infections, it has advised people who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine for ten days, while those they came in contact with should isolate for five days.