Some Japanese angry at their govt’s Covid-19 guidance on washing hands & wearing masks

It's being seen as elementary.

Guan Zhen Tan | February 17, 11:29 pm


There have been plenty of advisories detailing how to defend yourself against Covid-19 in Singapore.

Here are some examples:

S’poreans buy up N95 masks by the box, experts in S’pore recommend surgical masks instead

Coronavirus: Cleaning your phone might be one of the best ways to protect yourself more

Reiterating the importance of hygiene

Japan’s government has naturally also reiterated the importance of personal hygiene, as its local cases of Covid-19 infections continue to increase.

They currently have 61 cases and one death.

In this regard, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) uploaded a set of four infographics on Feb. 16 explaining how citizens can protect themselves from the virus.

The infographics include instructions for putting on a mask properly,  proper hand-washing techniques and what to do when one coughs or sneezes.

“We made a Japanese version of the infographics that summarises measures on dealing with infectious diseases, such as the Coronavirus. Please feel free to use it”, they wrote in a tweet that included the images.

The first infographic touched on the two main points: 1) washing of hands when returning home, before and after eating and cooking; 2) covering the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.

Image via MHLWitter’s Twitter account

The other images proceeded to explain the correct way of washing hands in six steps, and demonstrated various ways one could cover their nose and mouth when they coughed or sneezed.

MHLW also explained how to put on a mask properly in three steps.

Image via MHLWitter’s Twitter account
Image via MHLWitter’s Twitter account
Image via MHLWitter’s Twitter account

Locals online unconvinced by effectiveness of hand-washing

Japanese online did not appear to be convinced by the advisory, however.

According to this retweet by a Japanese netizen, the infographic was heavily criticised.


“There has been a cesspool of negative responses with regard to the [MHLW’s infographic on the] washing of hands.

People have said things like:

‘Don’t make a fool of us.’

‘If you can defend yourself against the virus with such methods there would have been nothing to worry about.’

‘Please tell us something more important than this.’

It’s a dark place we’re in to see that people are looking for special countermeasures, rather than being educated on the necessary actions to be taken.”

Some of those negative responses include the following.

“These are precautions to deal with the flu. There’s no specific measure on the Coronavirus.

I don’t need an incompetent government that has no sense of crisis.

Your promotion is more important than the lives of your citizens.”

“Information of this level is something we’re reminded of every year.

In essence, this means that ‘there’s no way to deal with this’.

Wouldn’t it be better for the MHLW to print this information on money rather than make this?”

“This is no different from getting a notice from your primary school. What is the MHLW doing?”

Small steps

Others weren’t as dismissive, rationalising that these may be small actions, but they were nevertheless still important.

“Just because it’s a new model of Coronavirus, it doesn’t mean that the basics have changed. Hand-washing is obviously effective. Didn’t your mother, kindergarten or primary school teach you that?”

Ultimately, the negative responses from these people online seem to convey a similar sense of panic and helplessness people are feeling all over the world, including right here in Singapore.

“I think everyone is looking for a solution to this matter, but what we can do at an individual level is pretty much limited to this. It seems like we’re unable to accept this reality.”


Top photos via MHLWitter’s Twitter account 

About Guan Zhen Tan

Guan Zhen literally cried thinking about how social distancing means she can't get hugs from friends for a while. She longs to sleep until it's back to a lovely afternoon in her childhood.

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