Expert advice on avoiding holiday infections

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Festive New Year’s activities, such as travel, parties and family gatherings, are feared to increase the risk of novel coronavirus infections as the omicron variant continues to surge.

Experts are sharing tips on reducing the risk.

Prof. Yoshiaki Katsuda, who specializes in travel medicine at Kansai University of Social Welfare, suggests avoiding crowded peak hours at train stations and airports.

Aboard trains, he recommends choosing less crowded cars and not speaking loudly.

Travel by private car reduces contact with people, but highway rest areas still pose an infection risk. “It’s safer to get take-out food to eat in your car,” Katsuda said.

The omicron variant is highly contagious and is feared to be airborne.

“It’s a chilly season, but ventilation is important,” Katsuda said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

He suggested using more heaters and keeping some windows slightly open when you spend time with your family. Meals such as New Year’s osechi cuisine should be served in individual portions, rather than shared from a large plate at the table.

At the end of 2020, parties and travel contributed to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Toho University Prof. Kazuhiro Tateda, who specializes in infectious disease, urges everyone to think back on the lessons of the past year and decide whether their planned outings are really necessary.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has a toll-free number that people around the nation can call if they fear they might be infected, and the Tokyo Fever Consultation Center has a 24-hour line for concerned Tokyo residents. English consultations are available at both numbers, which are shown in the box accompanying this story.