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West Japan prefecture reports 1st coronavirus infection, man had contact with med staff

Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki announces the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus infection in Shiga Prefecture, at the prefectural government building on March 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Akiho Narimatsu)

OTSU -- A resident of this western Japan city was found infected with the new coronavirus on March 5, becoming the first such case in Shiga Prefecture. The man in his 60s had close contact with 11 people including doctors and nurses at medical institutions he visited.

According to the prefectural government, the man felt a chill from Feb. 24 and had a fever the following day, prompting him to visit a medical institution in the prefectural capital of Otsu. Although his temperature went down to normal on Feb. 27, he developed a fever again after working for about two hours that day. He visited the same medical facility a total of three times between March 2 and 4 and received IVs before returning home. Yet his condition did not recover.

On March 4, he was diagnosed with suspected pneumonia at another medical institution, and tested positive for the new coronavirus in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at the Shiga Prefectural Institute of Public Health the following morning. He is currently hospitalized in a designated medical institution for specified infectious diseases in Otsu and is reportedly recovering.

The man works in the city of Osaka, also in western Japan, and he took JR Tokaido Line trains to commute to and from work on Feb. 27, traveling between stations in Otsu and Osaka. He also had a two-day trip in Shiga Prefecture, known for Japan's biggest lake, Lake Biwa, on Feb. 15 and 16.

Otsu Mayor Kenji Sato, second from left in the background, and other officials discuss responses to the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus infection in Shiga Prefecture, in this photo taken at city hall in Otsu on March 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Misaki Morokuma)

The 11 people whom he had close contact with are his wife, his second son who has been back home from outside the prefecture since Feb. 20, as well as two doctors, six nurses and one med student at the two medical institutions he visited. They are set to undergo PCR tests and health monitoring.

Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki told a press conference, "We will further step up our systems for public relations and consultation services to address anxieties among prefectural residents. Please take appropriate measures against infectious diseases in a level-headed manner."

The prefectural government held a meeting of its task force to discuss responses to the coronavirus issue from 7:30 p.m. on March 5. According to the prefecture, 44 people had received PCR tests by noon that day, and all but the Otsu man tested negative for the new virus strain.

In a related development, the two-week follow-up period for two couples in Shiga Prefecture who had disembarked from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship and tested negative for the virus ended on March 5. Both couples are back home and are reportedly in good shape.

Meanwhile, the follow-up period for three members of a family in Shiga Prefecture, who had close contact with an infected man in his 50s from Ishikawa Prefecture, will continue until March 9.

(Japanese original by Akiho Narimatsu, Otsu Bureau)

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