Japan, Wuhan, Coronavirus

Japan, Wuhan

Coronavirus: After first death, Japan sees first possible case of doctor-to-patient transmission

Coronavirus: After first death, Japan sees first possible case of doctor-to-patient transmission

14/2/2020 6:08:00 AM

Coronavirus : After first death, Japan sees first possible case of doctor-to-patient transmission

TOKYO - A Wakayama surgeon may have infected a patient with the coronavirus, officials said on Friday (Feb 14), in what would be Japan 's first case of doctor-to-patient transmission.. Read more at straitstimes.com.

The patient, a farmer in his 70s, is Japan's 34th confirmed case of Covid-19. He developed a cough on Feb 1 and fever on Feb 5. Prefectural officials said he is in serious condition.What remains unclear is if the surgeon had personally treated the patient - Japanese source-based reports in Kyodo and the Asahi offer conflicting accounts - but both cases have been traced to the Saiseikai Arida Hospital in Wakayama prefecture, next to Osaka.

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The surgeon, who is in his 50s, was on Thursday confirmed to be suffering from the disease. He is the first medical doctor to be infected in Japan.The authorities are conducting urgent contact tracing to see if he had contracted the coronavirus from a patient and how many others he might have passed it on to.

He first developed a slight fever on Jan 31, but returned to work from Feb 3 to 5 after taking medicine to bring down his fever. He developed a 38 deg C fever last Saturday, and a CT scan revealed symptoms of pneumonia.At least two others - a doctor and another patient - have developed symptoms of pneumonia and are being tested for the new coronavirus.

The developments came soon after Japan reported its first death linked to the new coronavirus - a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo.She first saw the doctor for lethargy on Jan 22, and was hospitalised for pneumonia on Feb 1.It was only during the post-mortem after her death on Thursday that doctors had found that she was infected with the coronavirus.

"The relationship between the coronavirus and the person's death is still unclear," Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said at a late-night media briefing."Testing was conducted because she was suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. Her positive result was confirmed only after her death."

This is the third coronavirus death outside mainland China, with Hong Kong and the Philippines having earlier reported one each.Japan also confirmed two other new cases on Thursday, including a taxi driver in his 70s in Tokyo and a company employee in his 20s in Chiba, to the east of the capital.

The taxi driver is the son-in-law of the elderly woman who died.None of the five cases - the surgeon, his patient, the elderly woman, the taxi driver, and the employee - had any record of recent overseas travel at all, let alone to Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak.

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While their diagnoses indicate human-to-human transmission of the disease within Japan's borders, the Health Ministry said on Thursday that there was still no evidence of any community spread.Still, their occurrence in the major metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Kansai have raised concerns of a stealth outbreak of Covid-19. This is even as common cold patients nationwide fell to a 10-year low in late January, in a trend that was attributed to better hygiene to ward off the coronavirus.

Separately, another 218 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which has been quarantined off Yokohama since Feb 5.This is nearly 6 per cent of the 3,711 people on the ship manifest, with the cases traced to a Hong Kong man who disembarked the ship on Jan 25.

Five are in serious condition.The authorities said on Thursday that passengers aged 80 and above who either have pre-existing illnesses or are staying in cabins without windows will be allowed to move off the ship to government-designated lodgings for the rest of the quarantine period, which ends next Wednesday.

"There are some people whose health may deteriorate by staying aboard for an extended period," said Mr Kato earlier on Thursday.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday pledged to devote 15.3 billion yen (S$193 million) in emergency measures to fight the virus and to ensure that 600 million new masks will be available within a month.

He had earlier vowed to raise the testing capacity for the new coronavirus from 300 cases a day to more than 1,000, by next week. Read more: The Straits Times »

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