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122 bodies tested positive for coronavirus among unnatural deaths in Japan in 2020

An ambulance (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

TOKYO -- Some 122 bodies tested positive for the new coronavirus among unnatural deaths in Japan last year, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

    Police around the country classify those who get sick and die outside health care facilities as deaths from unnatural or other causes. The number of such deaths rapidly increased to 56 in December 2020, apparently including people whose health conditions suddenly deteriorated at home or at accommodation facilities.

    Among those 56 cases in December, 18 people had tested positive for the coronavirus before they died, and 38 proved positive in posthumous polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, according to the National Police Agency. Fifty deaths occurred at their homes, accommodation facilities, retirement homes or other places and six deaths occurred outside, including on the street.

    Police dealt with a coronavirus infected body for the first time last March, and such cases increased to 21 in April, when the first state of emergency was issued. There were as much as 10 such bodies during the May-November period.

    The infected 122 people died in 24 prefectures, among whom 36 were in Tokyo -- the highest figure among all prefectures -- followed by 25 in Osaka and 11 in Hyogo. By age bracket, 39 people were in their 70s, the largest total, followed by 23 in their 60s, 22 in their 80s, 20 in their 50s, nine in their 90s, six in their 40s, two in their 30s, while the age of one person was unknown. Among the 122 dead, 89 were male and 33 were female; 90 proved positive for the coronavirus posthumously and 32 had proven positive before death.

    Japanese police dealt with 167,808 bodies in 2019 that had died from unnatural deaths or other causes.

    (Japanese original by Naritake Machida, City News Department)

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