Japan has reported its first case of a person becoming reinfected with the coronavirus after appearing to have fully recovered.
Officials in Osaka confirmed that a woman who works as a tour bus guide had tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time, further heightening concerns about the spread of the infection in the country.
There are now 189 confirmed cases of the flu-like illness in Japan, excluding the 639 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked for two weeks at Yokohama, and a third death was reported on Wednesday.
While there have been a number of cases of reinfection in China, notably in Wuhan province where the coronavirus outbreak originated late last year, second positive tests have not been reported elsewhere in the world.
The woman in Osaka, western Japan, who is in her 40s, tested positive on Wednesday after developing a sore throat and chest pains.
She was first diagnosed with COVID-19 in late January and was discharged from hospital on 1 February, and her reinfection has health experts worrying that the illness could remain dormant after an apparent recovery.
Philip Tierno Jr, professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, said: “Once you have the infection, it could remain dormant and with minimal symptoms.
“And then you can get an exacerbation if it finds its way into the lungs.”