World, Asia - Pacific, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Japan offers 20 countries drug to fight virus for free

Turkey among countries which could get supplies of anti-flu drug Avigan, says foreign minister

Japan offers 20 countries drug to fight virus for free Japan Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi


Japan has offered to provide an anti-flu drug free to countries including Turkey to treat coronavirus patients, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday.

According to Kyodo News, Motegi said 20 countries could get the drug Avigan, which is currently undergoing clinical tests, including Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia.

Thirty more countries have showed interest in the drug, Motegi told reporters.

"We will work with interested countries to expand clinical research on Avigan internationally," the agency quoted him as saying.

Avigan, also known as Favipiravir, is an antiviral drug developed by Toyama Chemical of Japan to treat influenza, but researchers in China have also found it effective on coronavirus, the agency added.

Japan has over 4,250 confirmed cases of the virus, while 93 have died.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday declared a one-month state of emergency in at least seven seven prefectures out of 47, including Tokyo, to contain the virus’ spread.

New measures empower local governors to take stronger preventive steps, including asking the public to stay at home and restrict the operation of schools and other facilities.

Since emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the coronavirus has spread to at least 184 countries and regions around the globe, with the number of confirmed cases now topping 1.43 million.

The number of people worldwide who have recovered from the novel coronavirus crossed 301,000 early Wednesday, according to figures compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.

The number of deaths worldwide stands at over 82,000.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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