As any public official will tell you, it can be tricky to get citizens to comply with certain public health mandates—like wearing masks, social distancing, or getting a damn vaccine. So some health authorities have started taking a different tactic—publicly naming and shaming the folks that refuse to comply, in the hopes that guilt will get them to do the right thing.
Japan’s public health ministry—the governmental arm that oversees public health and welfare initiatives countrywide—publicly released the names of three individuals caught flouting the country’s rules for international travel after returning from abroad late last month. According to the document, the three visitors included two Japanese nationals in their 20's who arrived from South Korea and one person in their 30's who arrived in the country from Hawaii. While the three individuals tested negative for COVID-19 upon their arrival, all three refused to answer follow-up video calls from health authorities.
Japan has some pretty strict guidelines in place for those traveling in and out of the country, including a strict 14-day monitoring period. People are asked to stay at home for that two-week stretch, stay off of public transit, and keep in contact with any follow-ups from public health authorities. Per the Ministry’s statement, all three deliberately avoided complying with that final step; so their names were put on blast. This is the first time that the country has actually named and shamed violators since first announcing the policy this past May.
Right now, hospitals across Japan are buckling under a fresh surge of coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that in order to conserve the few beds they had left, only those that were terminally ill or at serious risk would be admitted into facilities for treatment—at least for now. Last week, the country’s newly reported daily COVID-19 caseload exceeded 10,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, and the Tokyo Olympics hasn’t exactly helped things, either. As of this writing, there are nearly 300 different athletes and Olympic staffers that have confirmed testing positive for the coronavirus. Hopefully, we won’t have to shame them, too.