JAPAN: Healthcare workers face Covid-19 discrimination

While medical workers in many nations have been heralded as heroes in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, many nurses and doctors in Japan have faced discrimination and ostracism despite heightened social media efforts to recognise their contribution.

In an April survey conducted by the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, 9.9 per cent of its 152 offices across the country responded that medical workers in their jurisdictions had encountered discrimination or harassment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cases included being told by family members not to come home, being shunned even by staff from other wards and being subjected to abuse when making house calls.

Medical staff treat a patient infected with the coronavirus in ICU at St Marianna University School of Medicine Hospital in Kawasaki near Tokyo. (Pic KYODO News)

A study also found that hospitals and their workers were blamed when coronavirus infections occurred there, resulting in the children of hospital staff being refused entry to kindergartens and other childcare facilities or being pressured to stay away from school.

And to counter this hostility experienced by some medical workers, sports figures, companies and local governments have stepped in to show their appreciation. In early April, players from a professional soccer league in Japan established the Instagram account ‘ThanksMedicalWorkers’.

A Japanese hashtag meaning ‘medical workers are our heroes’ has also been trending, with many professional tennis players, boxers and baseball players posting photos of themselves with fists raised in gestures expressing their support for frontline workers. (Source: Japan Times)