Demand for masks has skyrocketed across Japan with shops and pharmacies selling out faster than they can replenish stocks, exacerbating an already tense situation. 

When word gets around about a new shipment on its way, queues form almost immediately, as was the case at a Matsumoto Kiyoshi drug store in Yokohama, the city where the Diamond Princess cruise ship was docked in quarantine for two weeks.

Unfortunately, tensions boiled over and several shoppers engaged in multiple street fights. 

Isezakicho has a reputation as a somewhat seedy part of town, with a large number of hostess clubs and bars, however the street violence still came as a shock especially in the early morning hours of Tuesday.

The incident sparked accusations of line cutting, price gouging, and even some speculation that those involved were Chinese people looking to sell masks back home at an inflated price.

There are now over 200 reported coronavirus cases across Japan with four deaths recorded so far. It emerged this week that a woman in Osaka was the country’s first reported case of a person being reinfected after being discharged from hospital having appeared to have fully recovered from the illness.

On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for sports and cultural events to be postponed or canceled and he has also asked schools to extend their spring breaks and remain closed throughout March.

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