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Health ministry says party ‘very likely’ cluster after 29 staff members test positive

TOKYO (TR) – The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has revealed that a farewell party held last month was “very likely” the source of a cluster of coronavirus infections within the ministry.

Last week, the ministry said that a total of 29 staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus. Of them, 12 attended the party.

“The series of infections very likely converged,” a representative of the ministry said on Wednesday.

On March 24, a total of 23 staff members from a ministry health and welfare bureau for the elderly gathered at an izakaya restaurant in Ginza for the party.

Despite a government request that bars and restaurants close by 9:00 p.m., some staff members remained until just before midnight.

No symptoms of COVID-19

Since that day, infections have been found one after another within members of the bureau.

According to the ministry, the staff members are not showing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever. As well, Wednesday marked two weeks since a staff member who was found to be infected went to work.

The ministry also said that it will continue to strengthen infection control measures and implement teleworking for staff.