TEMPO.CO, Tokyo - A woman has died from the coronavirus in Japan, the first such death in the country since the epidemic spread from China, the health minister said on Thursday, Feb. 13.
Two taxi drivers, one of them in the capital Tokyo, have also tested positive, raising the possibility that it could be passed on through their passengers.
On the Diamond Princess cruise liner quarantined in the port of Yokohama, 44 new cases were confirmed.
But in some good news for the 3,500-odd passengers and crew who have been stuck on board since Feb. 3, Japan said it would allow some elderly people who have tested negative for the coronavirus to disembark ahead of schedule.
Japan is of the countries worst affected by the epidemic outside China, with 251 confirmed cases, including those on the Diamond Princess.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference on Thursday that a woman in her 80s living in Kanagawa prefecture, which borders Tokyo, had died. She was the first fatality in Japan, and the third outside mainland China.
The woman fell ill in January but only later showed symptoms of pneumonia and was hospitalized, then transferred to another hospital when her condition worsened.
Her infection with the coronavirus confirmed after her death, Kato said. The route of contagion was being investigated.
The minister also confirmed that a Tokyo taxi driver in his 70s had tested positive for the virus, along with a doctor in central Japan. A third person, also a taxi driver, in Chiba just east of Tokyo has also tested positive.