Novel corona virus patient attended graduation ceremony in Hiroshima March 23

29 March, 2020

A woman in her 20s who has tested positive for the novel corona virus in Fukuoka Prefecture attended a Prefectural University of Hiroshima graduation ceremony held in Hiroshima city on March 23, it was announced at a news conference at Hiroshima Prefectural Office today.

The student traveled to the UK, France, Spain and Germany from March 5, returning to Japan on March 14.

After returning, she developed a sore throat, but had no other symptoms, including fever and other symptoms such as nasal congestion and a runny nose, but did not develop a fever. She attended her graduation ceremony at the Hiroshima Campus of Hiroshima Prefectural University in Ujina on March 23 as planned.

The student lives in Chikugo City in Fukuoka Prefecture where she began receiving medical treatment on March 26 and tested positive for new corona virus on March 28.

Precautionary measures taken by the university

According to the Prefectural University of Hiroshima website, they took the following steps to prevent such a case occurring (announced March 16)

  • They canceled the university wide graduation ceremony, instead holding smaller ceremonies for separate departments.
  • Attendance was restricted to students only, with family members asked to stay away.
  • Any students with a fever, coughing or respiratory problems where asked not to attend.
  • The university also announced on March 16 that it would not be holding an entrance ceremony for new students in April.

Details concerning the movements of the patient

The patient didn’t use public transport, traveling by private car.

According to details released [Japanese PDF] by Hiroshima city government, the student was in Hiroshima city on March 22 and 23. She stayed in a hotel on March 22, but it has been judged that she didn’t have close enough contact with anyone to warrant further investigation. The following day, however, she did visit a beauty salon and they are currently awaiting results of a PCR test on one staff member that she came into close contact. This staff member has been asked to self-isolate until April 6.

In addition to the measures listed above, the graduation ceremony was only 15 minutes in length, all windows were open, all attendees wore wearing masks and efforts were made to space the attendees. Thus it has been has been judged that there was no close contact with other attendees.

Hiroshima City government states that they maintain close contact with the Fukuoka Prefectural government as should any further instances of contact come to light, they will be investigated and if deemed to be close contac, subjects will be asked to self-isolate and, when deemed necessary, given PCR tests.

We wish the infected student a speedy recovery (and hope she is able to remain anonymous), but this is a reminder of how important it is, that no matter one’s age, to err on the side of (over)caution.

President of Prefectural University of Hiroshima, Kenichi Nakamura, expressed regret that although students had been repeatedly asked not travel overseas, the university had not been able to prevent the current situation. He also urged any graduates due to enter the workforce who start to feel unwell to contact their new employers and hoped that they would defer the start of work beyond the usual April 1 date.

On the same day (March 29), 2 new cases of the Covid-19 virus in Hiroshima City were announced, bringing the total number of cases in Hiroshima City to 4 and in Hiroshima Prefecture to 6.