Fourth person from quarantined Japan ship dies

At least 691 people who were on board the Diamond Princess have so far tested positive for COVID-19, according to the health ministry. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Fourth person from quarantined Japan ship dies

  • Three others, all Japanese, have so far died after becoming sick on the ship
  • Thailand confirms two new cases, total coronavirus infection in country now at 37

TOKYO: A fourth person has died after being taken to hospital from a quarantined coronavirus-stricken cruise ship off Japan, local media reported on Tuesday.

Public broadcaster NHK and other local outlets said the fatality was a man in his eighties, with the Yomiuri Shimbun saying the man had tested positive for the new coronavirus and died of pneumonia.

The health minister did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the reports.

Three others, all Japanese, have so far died after becoming sick on the ship. Two were confirmed to have the new coronavirus, while the health ministry declined to comment on whether the third person tested positive for the virus.

At least 691 people who were on board the Diamond Princess have so far tested positive for COVID-19, according to the health ministry.

Around a 1,000 people were allowed to leave the ship after it completed a 14-day quarantine if they tested negative and displayed no symptoms.

But several people who left the boat after getting the all-clear have since tested positive, and the health ministry has admitted some people were allowed to disembark despite not being tested during the quarantine.

Separately, Japan has confirmed at least 156 cases of infection with the virus, and one death.

Vietnam’s health ministry meanwhile said on Tuesday all 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus cured and no new cases were found since February 13.

In Thailand, authorities confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus, a senior health official said, bringing the total infections in the country to 37.

Both of the new cases are Thai nationals, Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the health ministry’s permanent secretary told a news conference on Tuesday.

One patient is a female, 31, and has a family member with a history of traveling from China, Sukhum said adding that officials are investigating the rest of the family.

“The second, is a 29, male driver for Chinese tourists,” he added. A total of 22 patients have been discharged and 15 are still being treated.


Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

Updated 4 min 13 sec ago

Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

  • Proposals to put hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial

PARIS: French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Friday it would offer 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to governments worldwide if studies show it can safely to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Both hydroxychloroquine, which Sanofi sells under the brand name Plaquenil, and the related compound chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, are being studied worldwide as potential weapons in the coronavirus fight.
But proposals to put them to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial, with many experts warning there is not yet enough evidence of their safety or effectiveness against COVID-19.
A French doctor in particular, Didier Raoult, has raised hopes by treating patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine (HQC) and the antibiotic azithromycin, an initiative that many health officials refuse to endorse in the absence of more rigorous studies.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron met Raoult and his team in Marseille to discuss their latest findings, though the president did not comment publicly on the meeting afterward.
Sanofi acknowledged that “interpretations of the available preliminary data on hydroxychloroquine in the management of COVID-19 differ widely.
“While hydroxychloroquine is generating a lot of hope for patients around the world, it should be remembered that there are no results from ongoing studies, and the results may be positive or negative.”
But chief executive Paul Hudson said in a statement, “If the trials prove positive, we hope our donation will play a critical role for patients.”
Other companies have also pledged to offer the drugs, with Switzerland’s Novartis proposing 130 million doses of chloroquine, and Israeli generic producer Teva promising 10 million doses of HQC for US hospitals.
Sanofi is also working on a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 94,000 people worldwide since cases were first reported in China last December.