11 people infected on tour boat in Tokyo, likely transmitted coronavirus to non-passengers

This electron microscope image provided by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention and GISAID (Global Influenza Data Sharing Initiative) shows the novel coronavirus.

TOKYO – A sudden spike in new cases of coronavirus has been confirmed among attendees of a New Year’s party for independent taxi drivers held on a traditional excursion boat on the “yakatabune” river in the capital.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government says the virus could spread in the capital, as people absent from the party – including an office worker and a driver – have also been confirmed infected and are calling for measures to prevent transmission. He provided information on the route of infection among party attendees at a press conference on February 16.

The New Year’s Eve party was hosted on Jan. 18 by a branch of a private taxi union based in Tokyo’s Jonan area, and brought together around 70 taxi drivers and their families who dined on the boat. However, the windows were closed due to heavy rains, creating a confined space with insufficient ventilation – the kind of environment where disease spreads more easily.

The metropolitan government carried out tests on around 200 people involved in the party, assuming the infection had spread to the yakatabune boat.

A self-employed taxi driver in his 60s, who was attending the party with his wife, had tested positive in Tokyo. He is the son-in-law of a woman in her 60s from Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, who died on February 13 – the first confirmed death in Japan from the COVID-19 disease.

The metropolitan government began investigating the woman’s death and had confirmed that 11 yakatabune participants and employees were infected with the coronavirus as of February 16.

Two people who were not on the tourist boat also tested positive for the new virus: a union employee in her 50s, who had contact with the taxi driver at work, and a doctor in in her sixties at Makita General Hospital in Tokyo. Ota district.

A hospital nurse who tested positive for the coronavirus on February 15 attended the New Year’s party as a family member of one of the taxi drivers. The doctor had dined with the nurse and others on three occasions at the end of January.

(Japanese original by Koichi Uchida and Yoshikazu Takeuchi, Tokyo City Information Department)

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