National

Eight more COVID-19 infections confirmed in Tokyo as Japan sees spate of domestic transmissions

Kyodo

Eight people in Tokyo, three more who have connections to a hospital in Wakayama Prefecture and one person in Nagoya tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday as Japan struggles with a daily increase in the number of domestic cases of the virus.

Seven of the eight people in Tokyo had had close contact with a taxi driver who this week tested positive for the coronavirus, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.

The remaining person in Tokyo is a businessman in his 40s and is in serious condition in hospital. After showing symptoms such as coughing and fever last Monday, the man made a business trip on a Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train to Aichi Prefecture, metro officials said, adding that he has not traveled to China recently.

Meanwhile, Wakayama Prefecture officials announced Saturday that another doctor in his 50s who worked at Saiseikai Arida Hospital in the town of Yuasa tested positive for the new coronavirus. An earlier case also involved a doctor in his 50s.

The second doctor’s wife and a male inpatient in his 60s at the hospital were confirmed to have the virus Saturday.

The new cases bring the total number of infections in Japan to 338, including 285 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Five cases of infection have now been confirmed at the Saiseikai hospital, also including an earlier case of a male patient in his 70s.

At a news conference Saturday, Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka said the two doctors, who are both surgeons, are believed to have contracted the virus while working at the hospital.

Later Saturday, officials in Nagoya said a woman in her 60s tested positive for the virus. The woman is the wife of a man in his 60s who has tested positive on Friday after the couple recently returned from a trip to Hawaii.

In recent days, Japan has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases from people with no direct connection to China. Infections were also reported Friday in Tokyo, Aichi, Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures.

The cases confirmed Friday in Tokyo and Hokkaido involved people with no recent history of travel to China and came on the heels of the first domestic coronavirus death — that of a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa Prefecture, whose son-in-law, the taxi driver, was also found to be infected.

Among the two cases reported Friday, one was a worker on a yakatabune (traditional roofed party boat) on which the taxi driver attended a party on Jan. 18 with his wife, while the other did not attend the party but is a staffer of a taxi union the driver belongs to, the Tokyo government said.

The boat worker had also previously come into contact with travelers from China’s Hubei province, it said.

Among the cases reported Saturday, seven of the people had been on the same party boat.

“Now we’re facing a different situation,” health minister Katsunobu Kato told a press conference the same day, referring to a rise in the number of cases where the route of infection cannot be tracked.

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