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House party cluster infection pushes east Japan pref.'s daily virus tally to record high

Tochigi Prefectural Government headquarters (Mainichi/Tatsuki Noda)

UTSUNOMIYA -- A cluster infection related to a house party pushed the daily coronavirus infection count in eastern Japan's Tochigi Prefecture to a new high of 21 on Sept. 14.

    Of the 21 cases reported on the day, 19 were people who attended the Sept. 5 party in the city of Sano, their family members or coworkers, the prefecture announced. The infections bring the total number of cases associated with the party to 28 -- 13 attendees, and 15 people who came into close contact with them.

    The group infection is Tochigi Prefecture's sixth confirmed cluster. There have been 359 total coronavirus cases in the prefecture as of Sept. 14.

    The new party cluster cases include children under 10 and adults aged up to their 60s. Eighteen of the 19 are Sano residents, and one -- a woman in her 30s -- lives in the city of Tochigi. The two non-party-related cases are a man in his 40s and his son who live in neighboring Gunma Prefecture. According to the announcement, all the newly confirmed patients have at most light COVID-19 symptoms, and 14 have no symptoms at all.

    The Sept. 5 party apparently began in the evening and continued late into the night, with attendees going without masks while they ate, drank and sang karaoke. Tochigi Prefecture is examining the partygoers and also plans to test those who subsequently had close contact with them.

    "We are tracking the spread of the virus from the party to a certain level," a prefectural representative stated.

    (Japanese original by Naoto Takeda, Utsunomiya Bureau)

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