• Changes in the spatial distribution of COVID-19 incidence in Italy using GIS-based maps

      Martellucci, Cecilia Acuti; Sah, Ranjit; Rabaan, Ali A.; Dhama, Kuldeep; Casalone, Cristina; Arteaga-Livias, Kovy; Sawano, Toyoaki; Ozaki, Akihiko; Bhandari, Divya; Higuchi, Asaka; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-07-18)
      Massive spreading of the pandemic Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in different continents [1, 2], have been observed. Analyses mostly focused on the number of cases per country and administrative levels, multiple times without considering the relevance of the incidence rates. These help to see the concentration of disease among the population in terms of cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Even more using geographical information systems (GIS)-based maps stakeholder may rapidly analyze changes in the epidemiological situation [3, 4]. Although the epidemic of COVID-19 caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) started in Italy on January 31, 2020, no reports on the use of GIS-based maps have been published to analyze the distinct differences in incidence rates across its regions and provinces during the last months. For these reasons, we have developed epidemiological maps of incidence rates using official populations, by regions and provinces, for COVID-19 in Italy using GIS.
    • COVID-19: challenges faced by Nepalese migrants living in Japan

      Bhandari, Divya; Kotera, Yasuhiro; Ozaki, Akihiko; Abeysinghe, Sudeepa; Kosaka, Makoto; Tanimoto, Tetsuya; Medical Governance Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan; University of Derby; Jyoban Hospital of Tokiwa Foundation, Iwaki, Japan; University of Edinburgh (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-04-19)
      Worldwide, COVID-19 has exacerbated the vulnerability of migrants, impacting many facets of their lives. Nepalese make up one of the largest groups of migrants residing in Japan. Crises, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could disproportionately affect migrants from low- and middle-income countries like Nepal, widening health and economic inequalities. An in-depth, comprehensive assessment is needed to appraise the diverse problems they encounter. Drawing upon qualitative interviews, this study aimed to identify challenges faced by Nepalese migrants in Japan as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss their needs to counter these challenges. This qualitative study employed an interpretivist approach to appraise the first-hand experience of Nepalese migrants living in Japan. Fourteen participants (8 males and 6 females, aged 21 to 47 years old) were recruited to participate in semi-structured in-depth telephone interviews (45–60 min) regarding: (a) their perceived current physical and mental health, (b) problems faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (c) perception of available and necessary support structures. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to recruit the participants. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed. Six themes were identified: 1) experiencing psychosomatic symptoms, 2) adoption of new healthy behaviors, 3) financial hardship, 4) family concerns, 5) reflections on discrimination and 6) reflections of existing support and expectations of support systems. The findings of our study illustrate the specific impact of COVID-19 among Nepalese migrants regarding their unstable employment conditions, perceived lack of social support, possible obligation to send money home, difficulty in accessing services due to the language barrier, and a lack of effective governmental support from Nepal. Pandemic-related adversity has negatively impacted migrants’ mental well-being, exacerbating their vulnerability. Comprehensive and timely support should be provided to the vulnerable migrant population. Effective coordination among relevant parties in both countries, including the governments concerned, should be facilitated.
    • Mental health of medical workers in Japan during COVID-19: relationships with loneliness, hope and self-compassion

      Kotera, Yasuhiro; Ozaki, Akihiko; Miyatake, Hirotomo; Tsunetoshi, Chie; Nishikawa, Yoshitaka; Tanimoto, Tetsuya; University of Derby; Jyoban Hospital of Tokiwa Foundation, Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan; Medical Governance Research Institute, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan; Orange Home Care Clinic, Tawara, Fukui, Japan; et al. (Springer, 2021-02-20)
      The current pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has negatively impacted medical workers’ mental health in many countries including Japan. Although research identified poor mental health of medical workers in COVID-19, protective factors for their mental health remain to be appraised. Accordingly, this study aimed to investigate relationships between mental health problems, loneliness, hope and self-compassion among Japanese medical workers, and compare with the general population. Online self-report measures regarding those four constructs were completed by 142 medical workers and 138 individuals in the general population. T-tests and multiple regression analysis were performed. Medical workers had higher levels of mental health problems and loneliness, and lower levels of hope and self-compassion than the general population. Loneliness was the strongest predictor of mental health problems in the medical workers. Findings suggest that Japanese medical workplaces may benefit from targeting workplace loneliness to prevent mental health problems among the medical staff.
    • Underestimation of COVID-19 cases in Japan: an analysis of RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 among 47 prefectures in Japan

      Sawano, Toyoaki; Kotera, Yasuhiro; Ozaki, Akihiko; Murayama, Anju; Tanimoto, Tetsuya; Sah, Ranjit; Wang, Jiwei; Fukushima Medical University, Japan; University of Derby; Tohoku University, Japan; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2020-06-19)
      Under the unique Japanese policy to restrict reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, a nationwide number of its confirmed cases and mortality remains to be low. Yet the information is lacking on geographical differences of these measures and their associated factors. Evaluation of prefecture-based geographical differences and associated predictors for the incidence and number of RT-PCR tests for COVID-19. Cross-sectional study using regression and correlation analysis. We retrieved domestic laboratory-confirmed cases, deaths, and the number of RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 from January 15 to April 6, 2020 in 47 prefectures in Japan, using publicly-available data by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. We did descriptive analyses of these three measures and identified significant predictors for the incidence and RT-PCR testing through multiple regression analyses and correlates with the number of deaths through correlation analysis. The median prefectural-level incidence and number of RT-PCR testing per 100,000 population were 1.14 and 38.6, respectively. Multiple regression analyses revealed that significant predictors for the incidence were prefectural-level population (p < 0.001) and the number of RT-PCR testing (p = 0.03); and those for RT-PCR testing were the incidence (p = 0.025), available beds (p = 0.045) and cluster infections (p = 0.034). Considering bidirectional association between the incidence and RT-PCR testing, there may have been an underdiagnosed population for the infection. The restraint policy for RT-PCR testing should be revisited to meet the increasing demand under the COVID-19 epidemic.