Japan sees first death from coronavirus

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen as they ride on a train in Tokyo Japan

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen as they ride on a train in Tokyo Japan

Japan today confirmed its first coronavirus death, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said.

Some experts have questioned Japan's strategy of isolating the passengers and crew in a potentially virus-affected environment on the ship while the disease is already slowly making its way into the country.

Thought he victim was coronavirus infected, authorities said, it is not clear if the virus caused her death.

Omi, who now heads the Japan Community Health Care Organization, said those people who have tested positive for the virus are "only a fraction" of what could already be spreading outside of the ship. "After that, tests confirmed that she had contracted the new coronavirus".

Kato also confirmed two other cases of the virus, a Tokyo taxi driver in his 70s and a doctor in his 50s who works at a hospital in western Japan.

A man in his 20s, who lives just outside Tokyo has also been infected.

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About 80 percent of the ship passengers were aged 60 or over, with 215 in their 80s and 11 in their 90s, according to Japanese media. The ship now has 218 people infected with the virus out of 713 tested since it entered Yokohama Port on February 3, the largest cluster of infections outside China. The ship, managed by Princess Cruise Lines and owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp, typically has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.

The additional 44 cases included 43 passengers and one crew member, Kyodo news agency said.

Japan has separately reported at least 28 cases of the virus, including among citizens it evacuated from Hubei, the Chinese province at the epicentre of the deadly outbreak.

Indian media aired videos in which Indian crew members said they were working in close quarters and appealed for help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The MS Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, docked in Sihanoukville in the evening after anchoring offshore early in the morning to allow Cambodian officials to board the vessel and collect samples from passengers with any signs of ill health or flu-like symptoms.

Later on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the cabinet would decide on Friday to spend 10.3 billion yen ($95 million) from the budget reserve to respond to the coronavirus.

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