Data | Japan's limited testing strategy for coronavirus does not yield in the long run  04/06/2020 19:21:11 

Japan is among the few countries that went against the grain in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, the number of cases was low, largely due to the identification of disease clusters and despite the absence of a lockdown or intensive testing. Lately a surge in cases has led to calls for a state of emergency.

Also read: State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates

Data suggest that Japans strategy did not work. India has followed a similar course, but has a lockdown in place.

Reversal of fortunes

The graph shows the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases since the 100th case in select countries. Japans curve not only flattened, but also started to dip after the 24th day. But since then its fortunes have reversed.

Dipping and surging

81012141618202224262830323436384042444648 1 2 5 10 20 50 100 200 500 1,000 2,000 5,000 10,000 20,000 Sum of Moving average 20,000 5,000 1,000 200 50 10 2 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44 48 U.S. had a late and partial lockdown, but a higher testing rate On the 45th day Japan is inching closer to China's avg. India's case average is middling U.S. China Days since 100th case Avg. cases Belgium Japan S. Korea India

(If graphs don't appear in full, click here)

Belgium had an early lockdown and a higher testing rate. India had an early, stringent lockdown but a very low testing rate.

On the other hand, South Korea did not have a lockdown, but tested at higher rates. Japan did not have a lockdown either, nor were its testing rates high.

Testing times

The graph shows the no. of COVID-19 tests per million population in select countries and Indian States. Japans testing rates were lower initially and continued to be so, while other countries ramped up.

Indias testing rates were even lower than Japan.

Not testing enough

Feb 12Feb 17Feb 22Feb 27Mar 3Mar 8Mar 13Mar 18Mar 23Mar 28Apr 2Apr 7 Day of Date [2020] 1 2 5 10 20 50 100 200 500 1,000 2,000 5,000 10,000 Tests per mn 10,000 2,000 500 100 20 5 1 Feb. 12 Feb. 22 Mar. 03 Mar. 13 Mar. 23 Apr. 02 Japan and Kerala's testing rates are similar Tests per million Belgium U.S. Japan Kerala India S. Korea West Bengal

Business as usual

The chart shows phone traffic from workplaces in Japan since February 16. The graph shows no significant change, meaning, the Japanese continued to work from offices.

The chart uses anonymised location data from phones in Japan to show how visits and length of stay in workplaces changed compared to the zero line.

Undisturbed mobility

+80% 0 -80% Feb. 16 Mar. 8 Mar. 29 +40% -40% Sundays

Source: Johns Hopkins University and Googles COVID-19 community mobility reports

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