National / Science & Health

First Japanese coronavirus death reported in Wuhan

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

A Japanese who was suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus has died in Wuhan, China, Japan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Saturday in the first report on a Japanese fatality from the deadly virus.

The man in his 60s was hospitalized on Jan. 22 with severe pneumonia, a Japanese government source said. The hospital in the city, the center of the outbreak, tested the man for the virus but notified Japanese officials that it was unable to conclude whether he was infected.

Citing privacy, the ministry declined to disclose the man’s name and other details.

In Japan, meanwhile, three more people on the cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the health ministry said Saturday, bringing the total number of infected people from the vessel to 64.

The three new cases — an American man in his 70s, an American woman in her 60s and a Chinese woman in her 30s — were taken from the Diamond Princess and hospitalized in Kanagawa Prefecture, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. The number of infections confirmed in Japan has now risen to 89.

The vessel, carrying around 3,700 passengers and crew from more than 50 countries and regions, was put under quarantine at a pier in Yokohama after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected with the virus.

Passengers on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins to prevent new infections and have expressed confusion and frustration.

The World Health Organization called on Tokyo to provide sufficient support, including mental care, for the passengers and patients.

“There’s a lot to do to support those patients. Not just from the point of view of their physical health but from a mental health perspective,” Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

“It’s quite scary, very, very scary to be in that situation,” he said. “It’s a very stressful situation for those individuals.”

In mainland China, the death toll from the outbreak has risen to 722, with more than 34,500 people infected, the Chinese health authorities said Saturday. The hardest-hit province of Hubei said it saw 2,841 more cases and 81 more deaths.

Wuhan, the province’s capital and the center of the outbreak, has so far reported 13,603 infections, with 545 deaths, the authorities said.

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