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Southwest Japan funeral ground zero for Ehime Pref. coronavirus cluster

The Ehime prefectural headquarters is seen in Matsuyama in this Feb. 21, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Aoi Hanazawa)

MATSUYAMA -- Four people in this southwestern Japanese city have tested positive for the novel coronavirus after attending the same wake and funeral, Ehime Prefecture announced on March 31.

The four cases make up the prefecture's first known group infection. A fifth person in Matsuyama was also confirmed to have the virus.

According to prefectural authorities, the four people in the funeral cluster are all Matsuyama residents. Two of them -- a man and a woman -- are in their 80s, one is in his 60s, and one in his 50s. Some among the group have developed fevers or coughs, and they have all been admitted to a medical facility designated to treat infectious diseases, including the coronavirus.

On March 30, Ehime Prefecture received information from Tochigi Prefecture, in eastern Japan, that a Tokyo resident with the virus had recently attended a wake and a funeral in Matsuyama. Ehime authorities then tested seven of the 13 prefectural residents who had been at the event, and three tested negative.

The fifth person in Ehime Prefecture confirmed to have the virus on March 30 was a business owner in his 70s who had been to Tokyo on a one-day work trip on March 12. He apparently does not have a fever, but is showing signs of pneumonia.

There have now been nine coronavirus cases identified in Ehime Prefecture.

(Japanese original by Ryoko Kijima, Matsuyama Bureau)

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