February 14, 2020
Tokyo--Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed efforts Friday to prevent patients infected with the new coronavirus from developing severe symptoms, following the first death the previous day of a patient with the virus in Japan.
"I offer sincere prayers (for the coronavirus victim) and condolences to the bereaved family," Abe told reporters. "We'll make efforts to keep symptoms of infected patients from becoming severe while working to prevent further contagion (in Japan)," he stressed. The victim was a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.
The prime minister said the government will improve virus tests and treatment for coronavirus patients through cooperation with local authorities.
In Japan, a spate of coronavirus patients, including the Kanagawa woman, who have no recent histories of traveling to China or apparently have had no contact with those recently in China have been reported. The virus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Tohoku University Prof. Hitoshi Oshitani, a virology specialist, said efforts should now be poured into reducing the speed of contagion and treating severely ill patients, as a coronavirus epidemic is likely occurring to some extent in Japan.
At a press conference Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: "We have yet to gather enough epidemiological information to conclude that a coronavirus epidemic is occurring in Japan. We will quickly collect information, including on infection routes."
The top government spokesman pledged efforts to provide accurate information on the viral outbreak in order to prevent the tourism industry from being hit by unfounded rumors.
The government plans to offer support to a hotel in the city of Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, that temporarily accommodated Japanese people who returned home from Wuhan on a government-chartered flight. The support will include disinfection and cleaning of rooms and other facilities of the hotel, and replacement of bedding and tatami mats. Jiji Press
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