Japan to offer multilingual service for coronavirus helpline

Kyodo News

Posted at Nov 30 2020 09:45 PM

Japan's health ministry said Monday it will launch a multilingual service on its coronavirus telephone helpline ahead of next summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Starting Tuesday, callers will be able to receive consultations in seven foreign languages -- English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese -- during service hours every day, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Callers will first reach a Japanese speaking staff, and interpreters will be standing by to take over calls if necessary.

The service in the Thai language will be available between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Vietnamese between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., with all other languages available between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the ministry.

The government expects many overseas travelers to attend the Tokyo Games, which was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The helpline in the Japanese language was established in January in response to the outbreak of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Callers can reach the toll-free line from inside Japan by dialing 0120-565653.


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