In Brief

A notice about the outbreak of the coronavirus at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo. A woman in her 80s has become the first person with the coronavirus to die in Japan.
A notice about the outbreak of the coronavirus at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo. A woman in her 80s has become the first person with the coronavirus to die in Japan.PHOTO: REUTERS

Japan reports first possible virus death

TOKYO • A woman in her 80s has become the first person with the coronavirus to die in Japan, the country's health minister said yesterday, but cautioned that it was not clear if the virus caused her death.

The woman was being treated for a separate condition and doctors discovered post-mortem that she tested positive, said Mr Katsunobu Kato.

"The relationship between the coronavirus and the death of the person is still unclear," he said at a late-night briefing. "But this is the first death of a person who tested positive."

Mr Kato said the woman, who lived in Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, developed symptoms on Jan 22 and was hospitalised for pneumonia on Feb 1.

"She was suspected of being infected with the coronavirus so... testing was conducted. Her positive test result was confirmed after her death," he added.


Taiwan bars entry to non-citizen children

TAIPEI • The non-citizen children of Taiwanese with mainland Chinese spouses have been temporarily banned from entering the island as medical care and resources are stretched thin amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The move, announced by the Centres for Disease Control on Wednesday, reversed a decision made just a day before by Taiwan's Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to allow such children entry.

MAC's announcement on Tuesday had drawn a fierce backlash on social media from Taiwanese, some of whom have framed the issue as one of non-citizens fighting with them for scarce medical resources.


China on clinical trial blitz to find virus cure

BEIJING • China is rushing a flurry of patient studies to identify the most effective life-saving treatments for people with the coronavirus.

Some 77 clinical trials targeting the pneumonia-causing virus have been registered in China since Jan 23, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The trials range from the high-profile study of Gilead Sciences Inc's experimental antiviral drug remdesivir and AbbVie Inc's HIV pill Kaletra, to tests of traditional Chinese herbal medicines and whether the sport of shadow-boxing may aid recovery.

While the sheer size of the research effort is noteworthy, the ability to scientifically and methodically discern ways to treat and prevent infections caused by a pathogen in the middle of an outbreak is unprecedented.

BLOOMBERG


N. Korean official shot for breaking quarantine

SEOUL • An official has been executed in North Korea for going to a public bath when he was meant to be under quarantine, according to South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper.

The trade official was arrested and immediately shot for risking the spread of the coronavirus, according to the report. He had been put in isolation after travelling to China.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has imposed military law in the country to prevent the spread of the virus. There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in North Korea so far.

Another official is said to have been exiled to a farm after trying to cover up his travels to China. On Wednesday, Pyongyang said quarantines had been extended to 30 days, beyond the 14-day period recommended by world health agencies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'In Brief'. Print Edition | Subscribe