Japan Misc

When we arrived in Japan the procedure went like this; in addition to the customs and immigration forms all passengers were required to fill out on the airplane prior to landing there was an additional Questionaire with questions regarding health, i.e. Have you been to or come from a country with a known H1N1 outbreak? Do you have a fever? Are you coughing frequently? Do you have nasal discharge? etc. When the plane landed all passengers remained in their seats until the Health team could board and check everyone. First was a guy in full anti-germ suit with respirator and googles carrying an infared camera. He slowly panned it around checking everyone’s tempature. Then proceeded to the next section of the aircraft. More Health Ministry team members went up and down the aisles checking everyone’s questionaire and handing them a paper with quarantine info on one side? When we got off the stewardesses handed out the surgical masks (like I am awkwardly modeling above ^_^ had the thing on upside down). They told us we were “required” to wear the mask as we left the plane.
Upon moving to Customs and Immigration we had to show the paper we were given on the plane to prove we had been checked before we were allowed to proceed on. By this time I had dropped the mask to my chin so i could breathe clearly. Don’t ask me how the average Japanese wears those things for hours at a time.
These elaborate procedures were meant to stop Swine Flu from getting into the country but I couldn’t help but to think that someone carrying the flu would slip right by all this before it had any effect. Apparently thats what happened because H1N1 popped up in Osaka/Kobe and immediately spread. The confirmed count is up to 193 and rising.
Now the Japanes government is stopping the onboard plane checks to focus on internal prevention. Via JapanProbe:

“We need to shift the focus of our human resources from quarantine efforts to domestic countermeasures,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe said at a hastily arranged press conference Monday.

“That doesn’t mean there’s no point in trying to detect infected people at our airports, but we have limited human resources available,” he said Tuesday, adding he wants to divert some medical personnel involved in quarantine checks to efforts across the country to grapple with the new flu.

The checks of passengers on flights from Mexico, the United States and Canada–the countries that have been hit hardest by the new strain of the H1N1 virus–could end by the end of this week.

Well, that is good news, if a little late…