Ja­pan records 1st death

But spike in Chi­nese cases not ‘tip of ice­berg’

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - YAWEN CHEN and ELAINE LIES

BEI­JING — The Chi­nese prov­ince at the cen­tre of the coro­n­avirus out­break re­ported a record rise in deaths and thou­sands more in­fec­tions us­ing a broader def­i­ni­tion Thurs­day, while Ja­pan be­came the third place out­side main­land China to report a fa­tal­ity.

The epi­demic is giv­ing China’s rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party one of its sternest chal­lenges in years, con­strain­ing the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy and trig­ger­ing a purge of pro­vin­cial bureau­crats.

With China’s streets, restau­rants and flower mar­kets bare, a mis­er­able Valen­tine’s Day is ex­pected Fri­day.

Ja­pan con­firmed its first coro­n­avirus death — a woman in her 80s liv­ing in Kana­gawa pre­fec­ture near Tokyo — adding to pre­vi­ous fa­tal­i­ties in Hong Kong and the Philip­pines.

Ja­pan is one of the worst af­fected of more than two dozen other coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries that have seen hun­dreds of in­fec­tions from the flu-like sick­ness.

The Ja­panese woman fell ill in Jan­uary, but only later showed symp­toms of pneu­mo­nia and was hos­pi­tal­ized, with coro­n­avirus con­firmed af­ter her death and the con­ta­gion route un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the health min­is­ter said.

How­ever, the big jump in China’s re­ported cases re­flects a de­ci­sion by au­thor­i­ties there to re­clas­sify a back­log of sus­pected cases by us­ing pa­tients’ chest im­ages and is not nec­es­sar­ily the “tip of an ice­berg” of a wider epi­demic, a top World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fi­cial said Thurs­day. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’S health emer­gen­cies pro­gram, said that more than 14,000 new cases re­ported in Hubei prov­ince Wednesday came af­ter a change to in­clude re­sults from quicker CT scans that re­veal lung in­fec­tions rather than re­ly­ing just on lab­o­ra­tory tests to con­firm cases.

“We’ve seen this spike in the num­ber of cases re­ported in China, but this does not rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant change in the tra­jec­tory of the out­break,” Ryan told a brief­ing in Geneva.

The big­gest clus­ter of in­fec­tions out­side China is on a cruise liner quar­an­tined off the Ja­panese port of Yoko­hama with a fur­ther 44 cases re­ported there on Thurs­day, rais­ing the to­tal to 219.

Au­thor­i­ties said some el­derly people would fi­nally to be al­lowed to dis­em­bark Fri­day.

CAR­LOS GAR­CIA RAWL­INS/REUTERS

A florist pre­pares yes­ter­day for what is ex­pected to be a slow Valen­tine’s Day in Bei­jing.

RYAN Not ‘sig­nif­i­cant’

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