Japan and likely increased heatstroke deaths: Facemasks, hot summer, and Covid-19 

Japan and likely increased heatstroke deaths: Facemasks, hot summer, and Covid-19 

Kanako Mita and Noriko Watanabe  

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese high summer isn’t in full flow yet but the fear of increased heatstroke deaths is very real. Of course, people often die from heatstroke in Japan during the height of summer. However, the coronavirus (Covid-19) angle is setting off alarm bells. This relates to the increased temperature generated by facemasks and other side effects.

In one prefecture the temperature topped 35 degrees Celsius this week. Yet by late June and early July, the height of summer will truly begin. Hence, temperatures of over 37 degrees will hit parts of Japan and the long hot summer will continue throughout August.

Indeed, in parts of Japan, the temperate can still be extremely high in the first weeks of September. However, by this time the humidity starts to come down.

Apparently, if around 31 to 32 degrees Celsius this will increase to 36 with a facemask. Equally alarming, within one minute the mouth can reach 40 degrees Celsius. Thus, even though deaths from coronavirus are relatively low in Japan, the fear is that more people will have facemasks on this summer. After all, the fear factor and media scaremongering will leave a mark on many people.

In one week in July (2018), it was extremely hot and 65 people perished from heatstroke. This applies to young and old. Meanwhile, by the middle of August last year, 162 people died from heatstroke. Therefore, the psychological burden of coronavirus means more people will have facemasks on in the height of summer this year.

Two years ago, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga uttered, “As a record heatwave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren.”

Not surprisingly, some companies are making special facemasks to counter the problem. Yet, for poorer people who also have limited housing ventilation, the costs mean most will buy standard facemasks. Therefore, despite the coronavirus being on the retreat in Japan, the convulsions could mean more heatstroke victims based on facemasks this summer.


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