Canadian-born YouTuber Sharla 'Sharmander' revealed what it's like living in Japan during the outbreak of the 2019 coronavirus, and the ongoing panic amongst citizens and residents.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been one of the top subjects in mainstream media over the last few weeks over fears it's spreading worldwide after originating in China in late 2019. Over 90,000 cases have been confirmed across the world, which in turn has generated a mass-hysteria.
In Japan, only a small number of people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus at the time of writing, but panic has set in and residents are making preparations to protect themselves from it at all costs. YouTuber Sharmander, a Canadian who resides in Northern Japan, has revealed just how much it's impacting daily life in the country.
In a March 2 upload, Sharla started the video by driving to the grocery store with her friend Mark, who had come home from school earlier than planned due to the country closing them early after the outbreak. "He is officially on spring vacation, the school year in Japan usually ends mid-March, but because of the virus they have closed the schools starting now, two weeks early...So everybody's kind of panicking because parents are having trouble finding people to take care of their kids," she began.
The YouTuber then talked about how there's a shortage of everyday essentials such as toilet paper. "Up until a couple of days ago, things were just normal, nobody was really panicking...When the Prime Minister announced that the schools would be closing, people kinda started to panic," she said. "Someone said there was going to be a lack of toilet paper in Japan because [it] was being manufactured in China. It was a complete lie, but it spread throughout Japan...and now we can't get toilet paper because people have been hoarding it all!"
"Everything is gone from the grocery store, Mark's gonna drive us out to a bigger grocery store today and we're gonna see if they have any stock left but my local one didn't have anything, they haven't for the past three days now," she continued. "It's not just toilet paper, you can't buy masks, you can't buy hand sanitizer, bread... Bread is completely gone, rice... Like, all the essentials, people are just stocking up on and there's just not enough for everybody."
Sharla then explained why she feels as though the approximately 200 confirmed cases of the virus is an understatement. "As for the number of cases in Japan, there really aren't that many that have been officially reported... But I have a feeling that the numbers are so low because the government refuses to test people!" she said. "Like, people will go in with a high fever and lots of the symptoms, and they'll question you and ask if you've directly been to Wuhan or if you've been in direct contact with somebody who has the virus, and if you say that, they'll be like 'Oh, we won't test you then.'"
"You could have easily just picked it up on public transportation, but the criteria for testing here are so strict that they're not testing anybody and it's really crazy, even for old people they say that you have to have a fever for two days straight before they will consider testing you," she continued. "And that's really dangerous because health officials were saying that if an elderly person has the virus long enough that they've had a fever for two straight days, they're already so bad that they might not be able to heal from it!"
The Canadian stated that she was "pretty disappointed" in how the country has been handling the way they've been testing people, and that it might be because they don't want to cancel the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. "I'm pretty disappointed in the way that Japan is dealing with it, it's quite lame. I have a feeling it's because they don't want the numbers to rise because then the Olympics would be canceled. It would be great to know exactly what's going on and what the actual numbers are."
The World Health Organization is advising the public to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, to avoid touching the nose, eyes and mouth, and cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing.
They also advise people stay at least three feet (one metre) away from anyone who you suspect could be sick – a big reason why masks are sold out absolutely everywhere.