Concerns Grow Over Spread of COVID-19 at Ishikawa Pref. Evacuation Center

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A medical support staff member pushes an evacuee in a wheelchair at the evacuation center at Ogi Junior High School in Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Tuesday.

NOTO, Ishikawa — There is a growing sense of caution regarding infectious diseases such as COVID-19 at an evacuation center in Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, where more than 200 people have been evacuated.

A total of 14 people — those suspected of contracting infectious diseases and their family members — have been separated from other evacuees. They have been placed in three classrooms and a medical room on Tuesday at Ogi Junior High School, which has been turned into a shelter.

Evacuees at the shelter have been complaining about fever and sore throat symptoms in recent days, according to a team working in medical support from Nippon Sport Science University’s Faculty of Medical Science.

About 10 of them tested positive for COVID-19 through an antigen test kit. One person also tested positive for influenza.

There are about 160 evacuees in the gymnasium, 20 in the cafeteria, and several more in other rooms, including the library. To prevent the spread of infection, evacuees who test positive and their families have been asked to stay away from other evacuees.

On Tuesday afternoon, a medical support team from the All Japan Hospital Association and the Disaster Health Emergency Assistance Team, which supports health activities in affected areas, also joined to support the evacuees. All those who have tested positive are said to have mild symptoms.

“As long as people are vaccinated, COVID-19, now downgraded to a Category V infectious disease, is no longer a disease to be overly concerned about,” said Prof. Hiroyuki Yokota, who specializes in emergency medicine at Nippon Sport Science University. He is providing medical support for the quake-hit areas.

“However, given that there are many elderly people in evacuation centers, it is important to take precautionary measures to prevent infection and maintain a sanitary environment,” he added.