Saturday, 28 March 2020

‘Has Japan cracked coronavirus?'

I was just saying to J this morning, that I thought perhaps the reason Japan was doing so well, with few coronavirus cases and low deaths, is that they have a culture of bowing. Rather than handshaking and air-kissing.
We’d just been watching the news of Boris getting the virus, with clips of him just a few weeks back saying “I went into the ward of the hospital, and you’ll be glad to know I shook everyone’s hand”. Wouldn’t say that now! It resulted in him getting the virus. Most likely because of handshaking. And in Italy not just handshaking, they kiss, all over the place.
But in Japan, when they meet they bow. Standing apart. And about the distance that is now recommended we keep apart.

Given that the experts are now urging keeping distance and not handshaking, surely the Japanese culture of only bowing must have something to do with why Japan has so relatively few infections, says I to J.
The other side of that equation is that they’re not so concerned about ICU beds, as they have around 13 per 1,000 vs under 3 in the UK, Italy and the US. Therefore they don’t have the same risk of their system being overwhelmed.
Another thing about Italy: adults living at home is much more common than in the US or other parts of Europe. Something like 26% of 20-40 year olds live with their parents vs. 6% in the US. Surely this has something to do with why the infection and death rates are so high in Italy.
Contrast, again, with Japan.
Philip Patrick in the Spectator, making this very point about bowing, that I was making this morning:
Then there are certain advantages in terms of lifestyle habits that may be helping to keep the virus at bay. Much of the actions being recommended, or enforced in Europe are already established in Japanese culture. Chief amongst these is the almost total absence of physical contact between strangers (contrast with Italy). Shaking hands with, or – God forbid – kissing on greeting someone is about as serious a faux pas as a visitor to Japan can make. A hygiene regimen that elevates daily bathing and hand washing to the status of holy ritual is another likely contributory factor. And, demographic trends have resulted in huge numbers of older people already living in virtual isolation, in vast complexes of tiny one-or two-room apartments, living lonely, but at the moment at least, somewhat safer lives. [my emphasis].
I’ve never really been comfortable with mwah mwah air kissing and even hand shaking I could do without. Let’s be like Japanese, and bow, man..