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Yokohama med trainees dined in groups before testing positive for coronavirus

An ambulance believed to be carrying people infected with the novel coronavirus is seen entering the Yokohama Municipal Citizen's Hospital on the morning of Feb. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Mei Nammo)

YOKOHAMA -- Two doctors-in-training at a hospital designated as a medical institution for specified infectious diseases by the governor of Kanagawa Prefecture had dined together with other residents in late March before testing positive for the new coronavirus recently.

The two are female and male residents both in their 20s at the Yokohama Municipal Citizen's Hospital in the Kanagawa prefectural capital of Yokohama south of Tokyo. The female resident tested positive for the virus on April 1 and the male resident, who was tested as a person having had close contact with her, was confirmed to have the virus two days later. The pair was present at a dinner function with other residents at an establishment in the city on March 27.

The male also spent five to six hours at a karaoke parlor in the city with five other residents on the night of March 25. He dined with another resident on March 28, and with eight other people including at least one doctor, a radiographer and a nurse on the following day. He examined a patient at an emergency room on March 30, and had a meal together with another resident and two of his friends on the same day.

The municipal hospital is the only governor-designated medical institution in the prefecture which has the capacity to treat "first-category" infectious diseases such as Ebola and has advanced medical equipment designed for transmittable diseases. The hospital accepted those infected with the new coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which had docked at Yokohama Port after a group infection was confirmed.

The report of the two residents' cases came after Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa praised medical workers on March 26, saying that the medical system had not collapsed "all thanks to medical workers who have been fighting tooth and nail" and that he wanted to express his "deep respect (for them)" calling them "corona-fighters."

On top of that, the cases were confirmed amid calls from governors in the Tokyo metropolitan area to refrain from going out at night and having meals in large groups. The municipal hospital's administrative manager Hiroshi Jinnai said while the hospital had provided strict guidance on standard preventive measures such as wearing masks inside the facility, it "failed to appropriately warn staff about dining with others." He added, "Residents also have medical licenses. We regret that they lacked self-awareness as doctors as well as a sense of crisis."

(Japanese original by Junya Higuchi, Yokohama Bureau)

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