Japan reports 1st death from virus, 44 more cases on ship

Coronavirus

TOKYO (AP) — Japan announced Thursday its first death from a new virus from China, hours after confirming 44 more cases on a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo as fears of the spreading disease mount in the country.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the first fatality is a woman in her 80s who had been hospitalized since Feb. 1 when she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Her confirmed diagnosis came after her death, he said. The woman, a resident of Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, was the mother-in-law of a taxi driver who also became a newly confirmed case, Japanese media reported. Health Ministry officials declined to confirm a relationship at the request of her family.

Officials also confirmed two other cases, a doctor in his 50s who works at a hospital in western Japan and a man in his 20s who lives in Chiba, near Tokyo. None had a record of traveling abroad in recent weeks or contacts with Chinese — a possible sign that the virus is spreading inside the country.

Earlier Thursday, he announced 44 new cases on the Diamond Princess, which is still carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew members. The ship now has 218 people infected with the virus out of 713 tested since it entered Yokohama Port on Feb. 3, the largest cluster of infections outside China.

In all, Japan has 250 confirmed cases of the new disease that apparently started in Wuhan, a city in central China, in December.

China has reported 1,367 deaths among 52,526 cases on the mainland. Two other locations outside the mainland, Hong Kong and the Philippines, have recorded one death each.

Kato said five of the patients sent to hospitals earlier have severe symptoms and are on artificial respirators or under intensive care.

The government has decided to allow passengers older than 80 to get off the ship after testing negative for the virus, Kato said. He said results of tests on about 200 eligible passengers are underway, and those with chronic health problems or in cabins without operable windows will be given priority.

Kato said the measure is to reduce health risks for passengers stuck in rooms under difficult conditions. Those who are released will be asked to stay at a designated facility through the end of the quarantine period.

“We are doing our utmost for the health of crew members and passengers who remain on the ship,” Kato told a news conference.

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.

“On the ship, infections are getting very dense. … It now provides a favorable environment for the virus to spread and I think it’s time for people to get off,” said Shigeru Omi, an infectious disease prevention expert and former regional director for the World Health Organization. “It’s like we are seeing a very condensed version of what could happen in a local community.”

Omi, who currently 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. “We should assume that the virus has already been spreading in Japan,” he said.

Later Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a 15.3 billion yen ($139 million) economic package to fight the virus, including funding for the development of vaccines and virus test kits, support for hundreds of returnees from Wuhan and measures to strengthen border controls to minimize the spread of the virus in the country.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Scattered Clouds

Abbeville

57°F Scattered Clouds Feels like 57°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
92%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy this evening. Fog developing late. Low 57F. Winds light and variable.
63°F Partly cloudy this evening. Fog developing late. Low 57F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
4 mph ESE
Precip
40%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Last Quarter
Scattered Clouds

Crowley

56°F Scattered Clouds Feels like 56°
Wind
5 mph E
Humidity
97%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy this evening. Fog developing late. Low 56F. Winds light and variable.
63°F Partly cloudy this evening. Fog developing late. Low 56F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
4 mph ESE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Last Quarter
Overcast

Opelousas

58°F Overcast Feels like 58°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Cloudy this evening then becoming foggy and damp after midnight. Low around 55F. Winds light and variable.
63°F Cloudy this evening then becoming foggy and damp after midnight. Low around 55F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
4 mph ESE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Last Quarter
Few Clouds

Breaux Bridge

57°F Few Clouds Feels like 57°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly cloudy this evening, then becoming foggy and damp after midnight. Low near 55F. Winds light and variable.
63°F Mostly cloudy this evening, then becoming foggy and damp after midnight. Low near 55F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
5 mph ESE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Last Quarter
Overcast

New Iberia

54°F Overcast Feels like 54°
Wind
5 mph SE
Humidity
100%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Overcast with rain showers at times. Low 53F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
54°F Overcast with rain showers at times. Low 53F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Wind
8 mph SSE
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Last Quarter

Sidebar