Japan's 7-Eleven worker infected with coronavirus, another case likely caused meningitis

TOKYO (Reuters) – A worker at Japan’s 7-Eleven convenience store chain in Yamanashi prefecture, west of Tokyo, has contracted the new coronavirus, the company said on Sunday.

7-Eleven, a unit of Japanese retail group Seven & i Holdings said it temporarily closed the store for cleaning and disinfection after the case was confirmed on Saturday and implemented various safety policies for its shops nationwide, including the wearing of masks.

Another coronavirus case found in Yamanashi was in serious condition, the local government said on Saturday.

The man in his 20s was found positive for the coronavirus on March 7 and is unconscious with a fever, pneumonia and meningitis, Yamanashi prefecture and public broadcaster NHK said.

It is “extremely rare” for the new coronavirus to cause meningitis, the NHK report said, citing doctors at the hospital where the man is being treated.

The number of infections in Japan has risen to 1,159 cases, NHK said.

Japan has come under criticism for insufficient capacity to test for the virus and for not fully mobilizing the capacity it has.

“I expect testing capacity for the coronavirus will increase to over 7,000 per day by the end of this month from around 4,200 as of March 5 and 6,200 now,” as the national health insurance started to cover coronavirus testing, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told NHK in an interview that aired on Sunday.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, Kaori Kaneko and Linda Sieg; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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