Arisa Kadono, tested positive for COVID-19, said that bullying and false rumors are circulating against her. (Image via Mainichi)

Japan sees increase of bullying toward COVID-19 patients

While the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had brought many negative effects in Japan, especially on its economy, Japan also sees a surge of bullying and discrimination against the COVID-19 patients, their families, and the health workers treating the patients.

While the Japanese government promotes awareness campaign that seems to be working its charm, at least the campaign helps for the health workers. However, for COVID-19 patients, they face different problems. The harassment and discrimination discourage them from seeking testing and care. Indirectly, it is hindering Japan in its fight against COVID-19.

For example, a woman in her 20s, Arisa Kadono, was tested positive for the disease and hospitalized in early April. The initial information was only her name and age. However, not so soon after, Kadono’s friends told her a handful of nasty rumors that her family-run restaurant was accused as the hotspot of the contagion; she went out with a popular baseball player infected by the COVID-19; or, that she sneaked out from the hospital and spread the virus deliberately. Speaking in an interview in Himeji, West Japan, Kadono felt as if she was a criminal.

While Japan’s society itself fears the infection, the experts said that the culture of Japan itself upholds purity and cleanliness, rejecting anything alien, unclean, or troublesome. Hence, the discrimination of COVID-19-related people was born.

A nurse in her 30s also testified about her fear. She understood people’s fear, but she also asserted that medical workers are doing their best. Discriminating them is demoralizing and discouraging for them. There was also a nurse who was shunned by mothers and asked to leave a park when visiting with her children. Some nurses were rejected by taxi drivers.

More often than not, a relation to the medical teams is also shunned. A veteran nurse in Hokkaido said that the mother of one of the coworkers was dismissed from work. The husband of another news was told that he could not land the job because of his wife’s job.