Infected staff member served food to customers at the register without wearing a mask.

More than 1,000 people in Japan, including those on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, have been infected with the novel coronavirus called COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation. Though the number of people being tested remains worryingly low, cases continue to rise in Japan, and now it’s come to light that one of the most recent reports of infection involves a McDonald’s restaurant worker.

The staff member is a woman in her 50s who worked part-time at the Kichijoin branch of the fast food chain, which is located in Kyoto’s Minami Ward.

▼ The media taking images outside the Kichijoin branch for local news reports.

According to Kyoto City and McDonald’s Japan’s Public Relations Department, the woman, who lives alone in Kyoto, visited a live music venue called Arc in Osaka on 15 and 16 February. Arc has since been identified as the location for a cluster of infections that have appeared in the Osaka area.

Following her visit to Arc, the woman developed a fever of 37.6 degrees Celsius on 21 February, and three days later she visited the doctor and returned home. Her temperature reached 38.3 degrees Celsius, and after hearing about the cluster of infections that had been traced back to Arc on 2 March, she contacted the Osaka Prefectural Consultation Centre.

She returned to the doctor on 2 March for another medical consultation, testing positive for the coronavirus at 7:00 p.m. on 3 March. She was immediately hospitalised and the Kyoto Kichijoin branch of McDonald’s was closed two hours later, at 9:00 pm.

Before her hospitalisation, the infected woman worked at the register of McDonald’s for four to six hours on 20, 28 and 29 February, passing money and food to customers without wearing a mask. She also worked full-time on weekdays as a temporary worker at the Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank office, travelling on local buses and subway lines for a week after her visit to Arc. Although she worked at the bank on a floor with about 100 other people, she had no contact with ordinary customers at her full-time workplace.

The Kichijoin branch of McDonald’s in Kyoto has a drive-through and is staffed by a total of 22 workers, who are responsible for cooking, cleaning, and serving customers. Kyoto City will now be checking the health status of the employees who work at the McDonald’s branch, and the store remains closed for sanitation under the guidance of the public health centre.

▼ A notice explaining the reason for the store closure was posted on the door on 4 March.

While McDonald’s Japan, which has about 2,900 stores nationwide, previously leaned against the use of masks by staff members, saying the decision to wear them or not would be made by each store, the company has since tightened its coronavirus countermeasures from 27 February.

The PR department now says workers with a body temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher are not allowed to work, and the wearing of masks by staff members is “recommended”.

However, the company is struggling to procure masks for all stores, with the reality being that it remains difficult for all staff at all outlets to wear them due to shortage of stock.

Source: Livedoor News
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