One of these “faces” discriminates against people who have the virus. 

While a number of countries around the world are taking drastic measures to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak, this week the Japanese government said it’s “still holding on” and “at the brink” of declaring a national state of emergency.

While some businesses have adopted teleworking and a number of big tourist sites remain closed, stores, restaurants and public transport remain open as usual. In addition, people are not being asked to maintain any specific distance between each other, but to avoid the “Three Cs” instead.

With cases rising in Osaka and Tokyo at the moment, governors in these prefectures have stepped up countermeasures by calling on locals to avoid non-urgent and non-essential travel, and now that beloved Japanese comedian Ken Shimura sadly passed away after contracting the virus, people in Japan are beginning to sit up and take the escalating health crisis seriously.

Now a new awareness campaign has been created by the Japanese Red Cross Society to help educate people on COVID-19, and it’s catching everyone’s attention with its personification of the virus in manga-style form.

“Let’s get to know the three faces of the novel coronavirus!”

According to the awareness campaign, the virus has three different faces which represent three types of infection that we need to be aware of, and we should get to know them all to “destroy the negative spiral” that can lead to further spread of the virus.

▼ The speech bubble here says: “There are three faces to me lololol…”

The first “face” of the virus is the virus itself, which causes cold and flu-like symptoms in those it comes into contact with, and can turn into pneumonia in more serious cases. 

The second “face” of the virus is anxiety and fear. Because it’s invisible to the human eye, and no vaccines or drugs to protect against it exist yet, it’s easy to feel frightened and helpless against the virus. But if we allow those feelings to overwhelm us, we will become weak to awareness, questioning, and morale, causing infections to spread from person to person like wildfire.

▼ This image shows “Fuan-chan”, or “Little Miss Anxiety”.

The third “face” of the virus is disgust, prejudice, and discrimination. Anxiety and fear stimulate the human “instinct to survive” so people who are infected by the virus or have some relation to it may be kept away from daily life and discriminated against, destroying the relationship of trust between people and society.

Why does “disgust, prejudice, and discrimination” arise? Because anxiety about the invisible enemy, the virus, causes related objects to be seen as visible enemies, they’re therefore disliked. Avoiding these objects then gives people a fleeting sense of security.

From this, remarks such as “That area’s dangerous”, or “That person’s dangerous” or “That person coughing has coronavirus” start being made, but the original enemy is the virus. We shouldn’t lose sight of the real enemy.


The Japanese Red Cross Society wants everyone to know that the three faces of the virus are all connected. The unknown virus, which we don’t know a lot about, gives birth to anxiety and fear, which in turn gives birth to discrimination. When people are afraid of being discriminated against, they might refrain from going to the doctor, even if they have a fever or cough, which results in the virus spreading.

We need to be strong against fear and discrimination in order to stop the negative spiral and contain the virus.

▼ “We are One Team!!”

This strong message against discrimination is actually an important one to be made in Japan, where people and places can suffer negatively after being “tainted” by illness. Fukushima, for example, is still perceived to be unsafe as a whole after the 2011 nuclear disaster, and descendants of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors still face discrimination outside of their locales today.

Japanese singer and heartthrob Masaharu Fukuyama surprised everyone when he publicly revealed he was the son of two A-bomb survivors, which made many people here reconsider their prejudicial lines of thought. Here’s hoping this message from the Japanese Red Cross Society does the same for coronavirus, because there’s no time to waste in taking action against this invisible foe.

Source, images: Japanese Red Cross Society
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