Eight more coronavirus infections confirmed in Tokyo as Japan sees spate of domestic transmissions


Eight people in Tokyo and three more people who have connections to a hospital in Wakayama Prefecture tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday as Japan struggles with a daily increase in the number of domestic cases of the virus.

Wakayama Prefecture officials announced Saturday that another doctor in his 50s who worked at Saiseikai Arida Hospital in the town of Yuasa tested positive for the new coronavirus. An earlier case also involved a doctor in his 50s.

The second doctor’s wife and a male inpatient in his 60s at the hospital were confirmed to have the virus on Saturday.

The new cases bring the total number of infections in Japan to 337, including 285 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Five cases of infection have now been confirmed at the Saiseikai hospital, also including an earlier case of a male patient in his 70s.

At a news conference Saturday, Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka said the two doctors, who are both surgeons, are believed to have contracted the virus while working at the hospital.

In recent days, Japan has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases from people with no direct connection to China. Infections were also reported Friday in Tokyo, Aichi, Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures.

The cases confirmed Friday in Tokyo and Hokkaido involved people with no recent history of travel to China and came on the heels of the first domestic coronavirus death — that of a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa Prefecture, whose son-in-law, a taxi driver, was also found to be infected.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said others who have tested positive for the virus had been in close contact with the taxi driver.

Among the two cases reported Friday, one was a worker on a yakatabune (traditional roofed party boat) on which the taxi driver attended a party on Jan. 18 with his wife, while the other did not attend the party but is a staffer of a taxi union the driver belongs to, the Tokyo government said.

The boat worker had also previously come into contact with travelers from China’s Hubei province, it said.

The government will carry out tests on some 100 people, including around 80 party attendees, who came into close contact with the taxi driver.

Around 10 have so far complained of a fever and other symptoms, it said Friday.

Health minister Katsunobu Kato said the same day there is “no reason for changing the government position that it has yet to reach a state of epidemic in Japan.”

A Hokkaido resident in his 50s with no recent history of traveling abroad has also been infected, the Hokkaido government said. The man is being treated at a hospital where he remains in serious condition. In Nagoya, a man in his 60s who recently returned from a trip to Hawaii tested positive for the coronavirus, the city government said. He has not visited China recently.



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