Japan’s Health Minister confirms its first coronavirus death

14 Février, 2020, 03:18 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen as they ride on a train in Tokyo Japan

A woman in her 80s has become the first person with the new coronavirus to die in Japan, the country's health minister said on Thursday, cautioning it was not clear if the virus caused her death. The woman, a resident of Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, had no record of travelling to China or contacts with Chinese visitors, and health officials are investigating how she contracted the virus. He did not give further details.

So far, 218 people on board have tested positive for the newly named COVID-19, along with one quarantine officer.

A man in his 20s, who lives just outside Tokyo has also been infected.

The British-flagged Diamond Princess is managed by Princess Cruise Lines, one of the world's largest cruise lines and a unit of Carnival Corp.

Earlier Thursday, he announced 44 new cases on the Diamond Princess, which is still carrying almost 3,500 passengers and crew members.

Brandon Brown, an expert in global health at the University of California, Riverside, said recycled air on the ship-a concern of some passengers-did not pose a risk.

Two taxi drivers, one of them in the capital Tokyo, have also tested positive, raising the possibility that it could be passed on through their passengers.

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"The more likely explanation for the spread of infection during quarantine on the ship is the high passenger interaction due to close quarters and limited personal space on any cruise ship", Brown said.

"She was suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus so. testing was conducted".

Some experts have questioned Japan's strategy of isolating the passengers and crew in a potentially virus-affected environment on the ship while the disease is already slowly making its way into the country.

The case comes as Japan deals with more than 200 confirmed infections from a quarantined cruise ship that has been moored off the coast since early February.

Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the cabinet would decide on Friday on spending 10.3 billion yen ($95 million) from the budget reserve to respond to the coronavirus.

China has reported 1,367 deaths among 52,526 cases on the mainland.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics President Yoshiro Mori repeated on Thursday that the Games would go ahead as planned.

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