Officials at the Health Ministry confirmed on Friday, February 14, that one person in Kanagawa prefecture has died due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan stands at 37 as of Friday.
As of Thursday, February 13, officials have also confirmed 218 cases of COVID-19 aboard the "Diamond Princess" cruise ship docked at Yokohama Port since Monday, February 3. At least 11 elderly passengers testing negative for the virus were allowed to disembark the vessel on Thursday, but were transported to a quarantine facility in Saitama prefecture. The remaining passengers on the cruise ship are still in quarantine as of Saturday, February 15, while more tests are being carried out; passengers testing positive for COVID-19 are being transported to hospitals.
Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 28 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Potentially affected travelers are advised to monitor the situation, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
• Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.