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Cluster infections reported at nursing home, kindergarten as virus surges in Hokkaido

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government building. (Mainichi/Naoto Ishikawa)

SAPPORO -- Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido confirmed 209 new coronavirus infections on Nov. 15, recording more than 200 cases for four consecutive days despite raising its own 5-stage alert level to stage 3 and setting an intensive infection countermeasure period through Nov. 27.

    Hokkaido has now confirmed a total of 5,471 coronavirus cases. Three patients died on Nov. 15, bringing the total number of deaths to 127.

    The prefectural capital of Sapporo confirmed 148 new infections, which is the third largest number of cases following the 164 on Nov. 12 and 158 on Nov. 9. Of the 148 reported on Nov. 15, the infection routes of 56%, or 83 people, are unknown. Furthermore, the city's 70th cluster infection was confirmed -- a total of 10 workers and residents at a nursing home have tested positive. The name of the nursing home was not revealed as the facility apparently confirmed those who had close contact with people who were infected.

    Two new cases of cluster infections were confirmed at Myojo Gakuen Seisen kindergarten in the city of Muroran and Kushiro City General Hospital, with eight and six people testing positive for the coronavirus, respectively.

    The virus also spread through already known cluster infections -- with 10 new cases found at Yoshida Hospital in the city of Asahikawa, bringing the total to 55 people, 2 new cases found at Hokkaido Chuo Rosai Hospital in the city of Iwamizawa, bringing the total to 22 people and one new case found at Takikawa Central Hospital in the city of Takikawa bringing the total to 14.

    Meanwhile, there has been a spate of infections among workers at public agencies. It was announced that a total of six public officials have tested positive -- four at the Sapporo Regional Immigration Services Bureau, one in his 40s at the prefectural government's economic department and a clerk in his 20s at the prefectural police headquarters' facilities division. One student at Sapporo Sakaeminami Junior High School was found infected, and the school will close the patient's class until Nov. 27.

    As of 2 p.m. on Nov. 15, 658 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Hokkaido, an increase of 58 from the previous day. Asymptomatic patients in Sapporo who are staying at home increased to 233 people.

    (Japanese original by Kunihiko Misawa, Hokkaido News Department)

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