• Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report


Twelve new cases of coronavirus infection were reported around Japan on Monday, bringing the total number of domestic infections, excluding people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, to 159.

Among the new cases, three were reported in Tokyo, four in Hokkaido, two in Ishikawa Prefecture and one in Kanagawa Prefecture, local authorities said.

The remaining two were health workers who were on duty aboard the Diamond Princess while it was quarantined in Yokohama, the health ministry said.

East Japan Railway Co. revealed Monday that a man in his 50s who tested positive and was reported to health authorities Saturday is an employee of one of its group companies at Sagamihara Station in Kanagawa Prefecture.

JR East said the man was mainly working in an office and did not have direct contact with passengers as a part of his job.

The Sagamihara Municipal Government reported the man’s infection Saturday, as well as those of three family members. JR East said it didn’t reveal the man’s identity that day and left the matter to the city government.

“We refrained from making it public because that would involve some balancing act between protecting privacy and serving the public good,” a company official explained.

Infectious disease and other experts gathered Monday in Tokyo to discuss a comprehensive basic policy to fight the outbreak. The government was expected to formally adopt the policy Tuesday.

They discussed ways to contain group infections, secure hospital beds and help people acquire accurate knowledge about the virus, health ministry officials said.

“It’s extremely important at this time to curb the pace of increase in the number of patients as much as possible,” health minister Katsunobu Kato said during the meeting. “Now is the time to develop a medical care system to prepare for a possible jump in the number of patients.”

At their first meeting on Feb. 16, the experts agreed that Japan was in the early stage of a coronavirus outbreak.

On Sunday, Kato said the government will quickly draw up measures that can respond to new developments and announce them publicly in the form of a basic policy.

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