More than 50 people died in the first 24 hours after coronavirus swept through Japan, prompting an emergency shutdown of the country’s health care system.
The latest deaths have left Japan’s healthcare system in a state of emergency, with some hospitals shuttering and patients being evacuated from emergency rooms, and the country has closed its borders to people fleeing the virus.
More than 1,200 people have been diagnosed with the virus, with a total of 6.3 million people infected.
It is the first outbreak of the virus in the West since the 2009 pandemic.
Japan is one of the few countries in the world with full-blown emergency care systems, with thousands of doctors and nurses and a large number of public health workers in the country.
A number of Japanese hospitals have declared a state to deal with the emergency, including Tokyo University Hospital and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a televised address that there was no need to rush to get people into the country, and he promised that people would be provided with the care they need.
“We will work with our partners in the international community to support Japan in the fight against the virus,” Mr Abe said.
But Mr Abe added: “This will not be an easy task.
We are not prepared for all the challenges and risks that we will face.”
The first cases of the disease have been reported in Tokyo and the southern prefecture of Chiba, which is home to around 1.6 million people.
Japanese officials said around 600 people have tested positive, with another 1,500 testing positive after visiting Tokyo and other prefectures.
Around 5,000 of those people have confirmed they have the virus and have been admitted to hospitals.
The outbreak in Japan is far smaller than that in the US and Europe, where there are more than 2.6m cases and more than half a million deaths.
In the US, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that there had been 4,000 confirmed cases and another 2,000 suspected cases in the week to Thursday, up from 2,500 and 2,100 in the same period a week earlier.
According to the World Health Organisation, the world’s top health agency, around 3.3 billion people are infected with the disease.