TOKYO – Japanese authorities announced the first coronavirus death in the country on Thursday.
The victim was an 80-year-old woman who lived in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, according to the Ministry of Health.
It was the third death from the virus outside of mainland China, after one in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong.
Around 250 people have tested positive for the virus in Japan, most of them passengers or crew of a cruise ship that arrived in the city of Yokohama.
Authorities have not yet been able to establish how the woman, who had never travelled outside the country, was infected.
Investigations have begun to find out details of the case.
The woman went to a hospital on 22 January complaining of fatigue, and her condition was under observation, according to sources from the Ministry of Health quoted by public news channel NHK.
On 1 February, she was admitted to a medical centre and diagnosed with pneumonia, and over time her condition worsened until she died on Thursday.
Tests found she had been infected with coronavirus, which emerged in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The death in Japan came after authorities reported that a Tokyo taxi driver had also tested positive for the virus.
Of the confirmed cases in the country, 218 were passengers or crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined on 3 February and is moored in Yokohama.
Nearly 30 other people have also been infected with the coronavirus, some of them Japanese residents who lived in Wuhan and were repatriated to Japan.
There was a surge of cases in China after authorities in the country changed diagnosis techniques.
The infection rate shot up by 15,000 and officials also reported 254 deaths in 24 hours, the largest one-day increase since Wednesday.
The jump in figures saw the number of coronavirus cases in China jump to 59,805 with the death toll reaching 1,367.
The World Health Organization has officially named the disease COVID-19, while the virus which causes it has been called SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.