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Japan confirms 1st coronavirus death as more infections reported

13 February 2020 20:29

TOKYO. KAZINFORM A Japanese woman in her 80s infected with the new coronavirus died Thursday, becoming the country's first confirmed fatality, the health minister said, as more cases of infection were reported besides hundreds on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo.

The woman from Kanagawa Prefecture near the Japanese capital, who had not traveled overseas recently, was found to be infected with the virus after she died, health minister Katsunobu Kato told a press conference, Kyodo reports.

She had been diagnosed with pneumonia and hospitalized since Feb. 1, the health ministry said, adding her breathing deteriorated on Feb. 6.

The government is wrestling with the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus. On Thursday, 44 additional infections were found aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with thousands of passengers and crew isolated at Yokohama in the same prefecture.

In Wakayama Prefecture, a surgeon in his 50s became the first doctor in Japan to be infected with the virus, the local government said. It was not known whether he had close contact with visitors from China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

A taxi driver in his 70s also contracted the virus in Tokyo. The driver was quoted as saying by a Tokyo metropolitan government official that he had not transported foreign visitors in the two weeks before he showed symptoms and health authorities are seeking to determine how he got the virus.

The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed infections to around 250 in Japan. The bulk, 218, are passengers and crew of the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokoyama near Tokyo.

The tally includes foreign tourists visiting from Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral outbreak and a Japanese bus driver who had close contact with Chinese tourists in Japan.

The government has been stepping up its efforts to prevent the spread of infections and strengthen border controls. It has decided to spend a total of 15.3 billion yen ($140 million) on emergency steps against the virus. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will make sure that over 600 million masks will be supplied a month.

Keywords: World News, Coronavirus,