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Covid 19 in Tokyo: What Happens When You Test Positive

It was inevitable. The continuing rise of covid 19 cases in Tokyo, epidemic fatigue, combined with my desire to party… I was bound to get it. It all started on Halloween night; despite the Tokyo government’s warnings, Tokyo’s clubbers were out in full force, masked, and packing our favorite nightclubs. It almost felt like the pre-covid days; drinking with friends at the bar, a packed dance floor, and grooving the night away. It wasn’t until a few days after my hangover cured, did I notice that I wasn’t feeling quite myself. 

On the following Tuesday morning, I woke up with a painful sore throat, nasty cough, chill, and achy muscles. I’ve had worse cases of the flu, but this felt a tad unusual. I took an Advil, and carried on with my day. It wasn’t until the next evening that I began to feel stronger symptoms of a nasty flu, that I decided I should get tested.

I thought to myself; this is probably just a cold. It is that time of the year anyway. But to be safe, I got the test. Two nerve-wracking days passed while I stayed cooped up at home. Then the call came, and I got the news that I had tested positive for covid 19. Immediate feelings of worry struck like did I spread it to my friends and family? 

After Testing Positive for Covid 19

I was given a choice to either quarantine at a hotel operated by the Tokyo government or stay home if I lived alone. In my case, I’m in a shared house, so it was vital for me to separate my covid fumes from them. 

Being quarantined was a surreal experience, but I am thankful to the Japanese government for arranging these efforts to curb the pandemic.

Information on how to get tested and what happens when you test positive is scarce for foreigners. And since I learned literally all there is to know about what happens after you test positive for covid 19 in Tokyo, I thought why not share all the critical information with the Tokyo Night Owl readers. 

The Symptoms

According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms are a cough, a fever, tiredness, and a loss of taste and smell. In my case, The loss of taste and smell was gradual, and I didn’t recognize I had lost these senses till five days after my initial symptoms. 

It is also possible to have a sore throat, headache, diarrhea, and more. Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, loss of speech and mobility, and chest pain. I experienced chest pain, but nothing extreme. 

Covid 19 in Tokyo

If you feel that you have any of these symptoms, it is best to get tested before potentially spreading it to others.

How To Get Tested

The first step is to call the Tokyo Medical Bureau of Social Welfare and Medical Health at the below number.

PHONE: 03-5285-8181
SERVICE HOURS: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM Daily
WEBSITE: Click Here

The government workers speak English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Spanish. Once they take your information, such as your address, they will find the closest clinic where you can get tested. Once you have the clinic’s phone number, call them up and request to get tested as soon as possible. 

Depending on the clinic, they will either take your saliva or the uncomfortable swabs to the nose. Results typically arrive in 3 days, with the clinic staff providing details with a phone call. 

What Happens When You Test Positive

If you receive the dreaded news that you tested positive, the clinic will inform the Tokyo government. Within the same day, Tokyo government workers will call you and ask questions like where you were and who you have been close to within the last two weeks. You will also need to provide phone numbers for all these people. The government workers will call these people as well and inform them to self-quarantine. 

After detailing your past few weeks, the government workers will give you a few options. If you live alone, they will require you to stay at home for two weeks. If you live with anyone else, they will strongly request that you quarantine at a government rented hotel for a set amount of days. In my case, I chose to stay at the hotel for six days, which was entirely covered by the Tokyo government. There is one hotel available in Toranomon that has English speaking nurses, which was perfect for me. 

Quarantine Hotel

It took about one day for the Tokyo government to set up my stay at the quarantine hotel. When it was time to go, a taxi van with loads of plastic separators inside picked me up along with a few other infected foreigners.

Covid 19 in Tokyo

The hotel was a Tokyu Rei Business hotel, and thankfully they provided me with a larger room. The rooms have wifi, free premium movies, and basic amenities except for towels, which we needed to bring. 

Tokyo Quarantine

Upon arrival, we were given an envelope with details on our quarantine and instructions to report our daily temperature and blood oxygen levels with the provided thermometer and pulse oximeter. 

We were only allowed to leave our rooms to pick up our bentos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

The Food

A benefit of staying at the hotel was that we had three free meals a day. It was all Japanese style bentos, with a dessert, rice and green tea. 

I ended up losing my sense of taste and smell halfway through my stay, so I can’t account for the taste, but it looked good. 

Covid 19 in Tokyo

The bentos start to become old after a few days despite the variation. I suggest bringing snacks and drinks, which they do allow. 

How To Spend Your Time

It can get boring stuck in the same room for a week or longer. I suggest bringing your laptop to get some work done. Or even better yet, bring a Nintendo switch or a PlayStation to hook up to the hotel room’s tv. Additionally, binge-watching your favorite series on Netflix is a solid time waster. 

Post Quarantine

Once your stay is up, symptoms are clear, and the nurses give you the approval to leave, you will be free to go. You will be given an envelope with details on how to apply for a certificate of recuperation, which may be needed for your job.

After your quarantine, you are allowed to go back to work and continue life as usual.


It was a surreal experience for me, but I hope I could provide more details on what happens after you test positive. Stay safe, wear your mask, and hopefully, we’ll get through this pandemic within the next year. 

Have you tested positive for covid 19 in Tokyo or Japan? Let us know your experience in the comments below. 

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