Japan is facing a threat to its economy as well as for its public health system because of the growing number of cases of coronavirus infections in the country. As a measure to try and mitigate this threat, Japan is mulling plans of conducting trials for treatment of the virus using HIV medications to treat patients infected with coronavirus, said a spokesman of the government on Tuesday.
Yoshihide Suga said at a press briefing that the Japanese government was making “preparations so that clinical trials using HIV medication on the novel coronavirus can start as soon as possible.” He however could not say anything about the likely time period that the new medication for the coronavirus could take to get approval.
Japan’s health ministry said that as of Monday, there were 520 confirmed infections of the virus in Japan. That included 454 confirmed cases reported from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been kept quarantined off the port of Yokohama. It added that so far, there has been just one death form the virus infection.
According to reports in the Japanese media, three more cases confirmed with the virus in Wakayama Prefecture were reported on Tuesday.
The Japanese economy has been contracting and could technically go into recession if it contracts for a second consecutive quarter in the January to March quarter. That fear has been exacerbated by the threat if the spread of the virus. The government has been forced to put a limit on the number of people for public gatherings. There are also reports of some companies asking employees to work from home.
There have been recent reports of HIV drugs being touted as a potential cure for the coronavirus across the globe and that has persuaded Japan to test them out as well. About 1900 people have been killed so far by the virus in Mainland China even as no completely effective medicine has been identified for this new virus strain.
According to reports, unorthodox ways to get treated are being explored by people in China while some have even turned to HIV patients and unauthorized importers for medicine.
Reports that a combination of medications for flu and HIV has been partially successful in fighting severe cases of the virus have come in from Thailand.
In Japan, the demand for masks to prevent contamination of the virus is now through the roof while local police is probing an alleged theft of 6,000 surgical masks that was reported by Kobe Red Cross Hospital in the central Japanese city, said reports in Japan.
Japanese authorities are also pledging no disruptions to the Olympic Games scheduled to begin in Tokyo in July this year. But a report by the Kyodo news agency said that the Mongolia’s Olympics archery team was forced to cancel its training schedule in Japan because of growing concern over the spreading of the virus in the country.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)