Japan reports first coronavirus death, the second outside China

Marje Pelayo   •   February 14, 2020   •   1085

TOKYO, Japan – The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday (February 13) the country’s first death from coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the second fatality outside China, the outbreak’s country of origin.

According to Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, the woman in her 80s fell ill in January but was hospitalized for showing symptoms of pneumonia.

She was transferred to another hospital but her condition worsened.

Kato said evidence of coronavirus infection was only confirmed after her death.

The woman was from Kanagawa prefecture.

She was the mother-in-law of a taxi driver in Tokyo who was among the three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Japan, Kato said.

The Health Ministry identified the other two as a man in his 20s from Chiba, and a doctor in his 50s from Wakayama Prefecture.

Meanwhile, Kato said they would allow elderly passengers who have tested negative for COVID-19 on the quarantined cruise liner the Diamond Princess to disembark ahead of schedule and continue their quarantine onshore.

Among countries affected by the virus, Japan is the worst affected with a total of 251 confirmed cases.

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Tokyo residents welcome end of state of emergency

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.

Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.

“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.

With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.

“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.

Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)

(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)

Robocop-style helmets help Rome airport check passenger temperatures from a distance

UNTV News   •   May 7, 2020

Helmets are a common sight in Rome, worn by the thousands of vespa riders whizzing around the ancient city.

But now you’ll see them inside the main international airport too.

Fiumicino is now the first in Europe to use ‘smart helmets’ to check the temperature of travellers – helmets equipped with portable thermoscanners that can screen people for symptoms of the new coronavirus at a very safe distance of up to 7 metres.

Airport staff wear the big black Robocop-style helmets along with masks, gloves and their uniforms – and like the 1987 icon, they too are helping to protect their citizens.

Attached to the helmets are a camera and a thermoscanner that can measure body temperature.

A view of the scan is transmitted to the visor inside the augmented reality helmet, so whoever is wearing it can see the full body scan right in front of their eyes.

“This is a smart helmet, a helmet equipped with a thermal camera capable of detecting the infrared heat emissions of bodies passing through its range and a normal camera,” explained Massimiliano Moretto, senior engineer of Sielte Spa, one of the companies that developed the helmet.

“It is able to detect the temperature of the single person but also of groups and can signal to the operator if there is a person with a temperature above a threshold set by the Italian National Institute of Health,” he said.

So far, three smart helmets are operational in the airport, used by staff walking around the terminals.

They hope to increase the number to five in the near future as passengers gradually begin to start travelling again.

The same type of helmets are already in use in airports in Asia.

Fiumicino airport has ramped up its safety measures after Italy began ‘phase two’ on Monday (May 4), a gradual lifting of its strict lockdown measures that have been in place for almost two months, sanitising every nook and cranny of the terminals from the roads outside to the suitcase trollies.

Fiumicino is Italy’s busiest. In 2019 it had over 43.5 million passengers and in January of this year, there were over 2.7 million passengers in just one month.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, passengers are down by over 95 percent compared to the same period last year. The airport closed Terminal 1 in March and has massively downsized their boarding areas.

Despite the slight relaxation of the rules, the airport was still near-deserted on Wednesday (May 6), after two months of being virtually closed for business while tourists are banned from entering and Italians stay at home. (Reuters)

(Production: Cristiano Corvino, Emily Roe)

Japan’s PM Abe extends state of emergency until end of May

UNTV News   •   May 4, 2020

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday (May 4) he has decided to extend the country’s national state of emergency to the end of the month.

Abe will consider lifting the nationwide state of emergency without waiting for its May 31 expiration if expert advisors decide that is possible based on detailed analysis of regional infection trends, he said at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force.

He said his advisors said that Japan had not seen the explosive surge in infections seen in some countries overseas, but the number of new infection cases had not fallen enough and there were regions where the medical system was facing strains.

For the 13 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka that have been hardest hit, a target of reducing person-to-person contacts by 80% would remain in place, Abe said. Japan will move gradually to a framework that will combine prevention of the spread of infections with maintaining social and economic activities, he added. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Hideto Sakai)

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