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Thursday, 13 February 2020 23:08

Japan to step up efforts on coronavirus testing, containment after first death

Written by Reuters
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan on Friday vowed to step up testing and containment efforts for the coronavirus after suffering its first death and the confirmation of new cases, including a doctor and a taxi driver.

Japan’s health ministry said Thursday that a woman in her 80s living in Kanagawa prefecture, west of Tokyo, had died. She had been transferred between hospitals as her condition worsened and she was only confirmed to have had the coronavirus after her death.

Her death brings to three the number of fatalities from the virus outside mainland China, where the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan in December and some 1,367 people have died. One person has died in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

There are nearly 450 confirmed cases in some 24 countries and territories outside China, with 33 in Japan and another 218 on a cruise ship quarantined at a Japanese port.

A Tokyo taxi driver, who Japanese media said was the woman’s son-in-law, as well as a man in his 20s just east of Tokyo and a doctor in Wakayama, western Japan, were also confirmed to have the virus.

“We will stay in touch with local governments and expand our testing procedures and treatment of patients in order to prevent the spread,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters, a day after a task force on the disease drew up measures to deal with it, including spending 10.3 billion yen from budget reserves.

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