LINE app may helps government identify clusters around Japan.
Japan is only using a fraction of testing capability
Japan is still not using its capacity for testing for the coronavirus despite recommendations from WHO. Testing is recommended by experts worldwide as an important diagnostic tool to find out where the virus is spreading, who to move into isolation as well as how and where to use other measures to contain the spread.
Unfortunately, Japan is still only using one-sixth of its testing capabilities. As of 3/31/2020: 30,000 people have been tested out of a Japanese population of 126,500,000.
To make up for a lack of testing, one new measure the government is using to gauge symptoms of the virus is running a survey via the app LINE which takes users through a series of symptoms to send more data to the national database.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s 『新型コロナ対策のための全国調査』”National Survey for New Corona Countermeasures” is now on LINE. An official recently mentioned it on TV at a coronavirus briefing, “I’m not currently doing any research other than LINE” he said.
If you are willing to add your answers about your symptoms (or lack of any symptoms) and can navigate the Japanese, it may help inform government officials by adding to the national database. Having this data can allow officials to better understand the likelihood of the spread of the virus in certain areas, even without doing more testing.
Typical Symptoms of COVID19
Although there is a chance these symptoms can have other causes, as the virus is now so widespread, these are now considered typical symptoms of the COVID19 Coronavirus. In the LINE app survey, there are opportunities to mention many of these symptoms.
+ 37.5 C temperature for 4 or more days or more
+ Sore Throat
+ Feeling overly tired
+ Loss of taste and smell
+ Body aches
+ Upset stomach
+ Chills (Cold Sweats)
+ Heart palpitations or cardiac irregularities
On the survey, there are also choices if you do not have any symptoms, as well as other areas to choose “other” if your symptoms are not listed.
In terms of personal information, you are asked to add your postcode so that the data can be collected by area to determine clusters. Your LINE account has other personal information that may be shared with the collection of data in this survey.
The LINE app survey was mentioned by top government officials in a news briefing about what measures they are taking to collect information on the spread of the coronavirus in Japan. A recent Reuters news article cites that at least 7% of all LINE surveys done in Tokyo reflect at least 1 symptom of the coronavirus.
I hope the collection of this data on LINE will be able to inform decision-makers. It is hoped that the information collected will show if there are more residents in Japan who may potentially have COVID19. The news on typical symptoms of the virus are being regularly updated. At the end of February, there was only a narrow list of symptoms, but now we have a lot more information to draw on from cases worldwide to expand the list. If data shows there is a greater possibility of COVID19, I hope the next step will be to provide more public access to testing so the virus can be more effectively contained.