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Restrictions placed on travelers from Japan as coronavirus cases rise

People take photos of the Olympic Flame at Ishinomaki Minamihama Tsunami Recovery Memorial Park in Ishinomaki, Miyagi-prefecture, Japan on Friday. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
People take photos of the Olympic Flame at Ishinomaki Minamihama Tsunami Recovery Memorial Park in Ishinomaki, Miyagi-prefecture, Japan on Friday. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

March 20 (UPI) -- Japan's cases of the new strain of coronavirus are rising as more than 200 countries are placing restrictions against travelers from Japan.

NHK and other news services reported Friday a total of 1,728 people have been confirmed to have the virus; 42 patients have died, bringing the country's mortality rate to 2.4 percent.

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Japan's death rate is higher than those of other countries, including the United States at 1.4 percent by Friday, Germany at 0.2 percent and South Korea at 1 percent.

On Friday, Japan's health ministry and local governments said there were 51 new cases. The figure includes 14 new confirmed cases among patients returning from China's Hubei Province on chartered flights.

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Hokkaido is reporting a total of 158 cases and Tokyo, where the 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to take place, reported 129 cases.

Japanese experts are bracing themselves for a spike in infections, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Friday.

Takaji Wakita, head of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, and other panel experts, said in an analysis released Thursday the "possibility of an explosive rise in infections remains," according to the report.

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The panel said the source of the infections is likely people returning from overseas. More cases with "unknown transmission routes" are likely to emerge in the coming days and weeks, leading to a spike in infections known as an "overshoot."

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Concerns could be rising in the country over the relatively low rate of testing for COVID-19.

Japan has only tested 14,072 people. The under-testing of the population for the coronavirus could be responsible for the high confirmation rate for the disease in Japan, which stands at 6.75 percent, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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In neighboring South Korea, a total of 316,644 people have been tested for the coronavirus by Friday, and the confirmation rate for the tested population was lower, or 2.73 percent. Seoul has said widespread testing has helped to stop the spread of the virus and lowered the mortality rate.

On Friday, a total of 209 nations had in place restrictions affecting travelers from Japan, according to Tokyo's foreign ministry.

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A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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