New virus case in Japan raises alarm over screening
Nikkei -- Jan 17
The report Thursday of Japan's first case of the new coronavirus that emerged in China last month has underscored issues with Tokyo's defenses against cross-border outbreaks as the region's busiest travel season of the year begins.

A 30-something resident of Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. This was nine days after his return from a visit to Wuhan, the eastern Chinese city where the virus appears to have originated.

The case has lent added urgency to Japan's rethinking of its screening processes in response to the outbreak, which resulted in a second death on Wednesday. China expects travelers to take 3 billion trips over the 40-day Lunar New Year season that began on Jan. 10 -- and according to Ctrip.com, China's largest online travel operator, Japan is the top foreign destination.

The Kanagawa patient began feeling feverish on Jan. 3 while still in Wuhan. He returned to Japan on Jan. 6, passing through a quarantine station on arrival. While incoming travelers routinely undergo body temperature scans, the test is believed to have found nothing out of the ordinary in this case, owing to the man taking fever-reducing medication.

The man visited a clinic the same day and reported having traveled to Wuhan, but he returned home after the consultation. His temperature reached 39 C on Jan. 9, and he was hospitalized the next day after showing symptoms of pneumonia.

The hospital reported the case to a public health office on Tuesday. Testing by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases confirmed Wednesday night that the patient was infected with the new virus.

Japan implemented a monitoring system for suspected cases of infectious diseases last April. But this applies only in certain circumstances, such as severe illnesses that require intensive treatment. The ministry found the reporting process in this case to be "appropriate" under the rules but said it would discuss whether the system should be changed to require quicker reporting.

News source: Nikkei
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