TOKYO (Reuters) – A cluster of coronavirus cases in Japan’s Nagoya city has been linked to an elderly day care facility, underscoring the difficulty of shielding the aged from the outbreak in a country with the world’s oldest population.
Elderly people are especially susceptible to serious illnesses caused by the virus and aged care facilities have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in other countries including the United States and Australia.
Nagoya, the capital of Aichi prefecture in Japan’ central industrial heartland, has 99 confirmed cases of the coronavirus outbreak and has been struggling to find beds for patients. Aichi is the country’s second hardest-hit region, with 123 cases.
Nagoya accounts for all 14 of the prefecture’s deaths from the virus, a prefecture official said. At least 12 of those were linked to the cluster originating in the elderly day care facility, public broadcaster NHK said, although officials declined to give details.
“Many (of the deaths) were elderly,” a Nagoya city official said.
In total, 50 cases linked to the elderly day care facility have been confirmed and all the patients are in hospital, a prefecture official said. A city official said an unspecified number of similar facilities had been told to close temporarily.
The cluster was one of two identified in Nagoya – the other linked to a sports gym – by the health ministry, which on Monday published a map of 15 clusters of five or more cases nationwide.
The biggest cluster was in the Osaka area in western Japan, with more than 50 cases centered around a music venue.
Japan had 821 domestic confirmed cases of coronavirus and 28 deaths as of Tuesday morning, not including those who had been on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been docked for weeks at Yokohama, near Tokyo, according to NHK.
Including the cruise ship brought the total to 1,547 cases and 35 deaths, NHK said.
Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by David Dolan and Lincoln Feast.