China warns world of the next coronavirus capital
CHINA has warned Japan not to repeat "mistakes" it made in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, adding to do so would create "the next Wuhan".
Japan currently has the highest number of infections outside China and on Monday took steps to keep the outbreak in check.
It banned 38,000 runners from taking part in the Tokyo Marathon, limiting participants in the March 1 race to only elite runners.
It cancelled the Emperor's birthday celebrations next week, meaning the tens of thousands of people who would have descended on the Imperial Palace in Tokyo will no longer do so.
It shut down new admissions to a hospital near Tokyo after a nurse tested positive for the deadly virus after treating a patient who later died.
And it issued new guidelines for residents who have any symptoms whatsoever, warning them not to leave the house and instead call a special consultation centre set up by the government.
Despite those measures, China says Japan is being too casual about the virus and is in danger of repeating mistakes made in Wuhan when the virus began taking hold.
The Global Times, a tabloid newspaper overseen by the Chinese Government, wrote on Monday that "Chinese netizens" are worried about "a neighbouring country with such a lack of epidemic control and quarantine awareness".
The concerns, according to the Times, stemmed from video footage showing hundreds of Japanese people together for the annual Naked Festival in Okayama prefecture in the southern part of Japan's Honshu island.
"Netizens also expressed waves of similar concerns after learning about the schedules of a number of public events in Japan with potential huge crowds present remaining unchanged despite the epidemic situation, and they said such a low degree of caution the Japanese government takes on the virus sees Japan emerge on the same path to become the next Wuhan, the COVID-19 outbreak centre, where strict and effective quarantine and viral control measures were not timely implemented at first," the Times editors wrote.
They cited marathons that went ahead in both Kumamoto and Kitakyushu where a combined 26,000 people gathered to race.
The concerns are expected to shape how Japan handles preparations for the Olympic Games in July.
Japan reported its first death from coronavirus last week. A woman in her 80s from Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo died after initially being diagnosed with pneumonia.
Her positive test for coronavirus came after her death, authorities said. It is believed a relative also tested positive but is being treated.
Off the coast of Japan, the number of those infected continues to climb. On board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama, 99 more people were revealed to be carrying the virus on Monday.
It takes the total diagnosed population on board to 454 and makes it easily the biggest cluster of cases outside China.
At the same time, 65 Japanese nationals from Wuhan arrived in Tokyo on Monday, taking the total number of repatriated cases from the Chinese city to 763.
"We agreed that the present situation represents the early stage of a domestic outbreak," said Tajaki Wakita, the chief of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The Japan Times reports medical workers are "concerned that large numbers of people suffering from cold-like symptoms, whether or not they are infected with the coronavirus, will flood hospitals and strain resources".
Under the country's newly-instated guidelines, people should only seek a consultation with a doctor if they have a fever higher than 37.5 degrees for more than four days or experience drowsiness and difficulty breathing.
That changes to two or more days if the person is elderly or has heart problems, diabetes or respiratory issues.
Health minister Katsunobu Kato told people experiencing symptoms to stay away from work and school.
The coronavirus death toll has now exceeded 1700 in China, where it has infected more than 70,500 people and led to a lockdown in Wuhan impacted the population's 58 million residents.