• Kyodo, JIJI


The number of coronavirus infections reported in Japan reached 1,000 on Wednesday after Yamaguchi Prefecture announced that a company worker in his 40s was confirmed to have the virus, the first case reported in the Chugoku region.

The tally, based on information provided by the health ministry and local authorities, includes more than 700 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama.

The domestic death toll stands at 12, including six linked to the cruise ship.

The Shimonoseki man developed a fever on Feb. 23 and was hospitalized on Monday. He tested positive on Tuesday. Before coming down with a fever, he visited the prefectures of Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Oita on business and private trips between Feb. 12 and 21, the prefecture said.

Later in the day, Kyoto Municipal Government sources said a woman in her 50s was found to be infected. The woman had been tested because she visited a club in Osaka last month with another woman, also in her 50s from Kyoto, who tested positive Tuesday. A total of nine people who visited the club had been found to be infected as of Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Ehime Prefectural Government announced the same day a woman in her 30s in Matsuyama has tested positive.

Hokkaido, which declared a state of emergency on Friday, has confirmed three more cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 82 cases, the largest number by a single prefecture. Tokyo, Kanagawa and Aichi prefectures have each reported over 30 infections. Along with Wakayama, they have reported small groups of infections, or clusters, in their regions.

As of Monday, a total of 59 people were connected to ventilators or had been admitted to intensive care, according to data from the health ministry. However, most people with the virus have mild symptoms.

The government has said the next two weeks or so will be critical in curbing the spread of the virus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

The health ministry said Tuesday it has instructed mask manufacturers and distributors to sell some 4 million face masks to the government for distribution in Hokkaido.

The masks will be provided to areas experiencing significant outbreaks, with the town of Nakafurano and the city of Kitami being prioritized for distribution, the ministry said.

The ministry is considering providing about 40 masks per household.

It is the first time the government has instructed companies to sell products to the state under a law, enacted in 1973 following an oil crisis, that aims to stabilize people’s lives in the event of an emergency.

The government will spend ¥2.285 billion in reserve funds set aside under the fiscal 2019 budget to distribute the masks.

The government will buy necessary stocks and supply them to households via post offices.

It plans to draw up additional emergency measures to fight the virus’s spread as early as March 10. The measures will be financed by the remaining ¥272 billion in reserve funds.

Last week, Abe requested all schools in Japan to close and asked operators of sports and entertainment venues to consider canceling or postponing big events.

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