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Japan confirms 2nd new virus case, braces for Chinese tourist influx

24 January 2020 20:18

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Japan confirmed Friday a second infection related to a deadly new coronavirus, rushing to take preventive steps against the outbreak in China ahead of an expected influx of tourists from that country during its Lunar New Year holiday, Kyodo reports.

The patient was a man in his 40s visiting from Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus originated, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said, adding he had been hospitalized in Tokyo and was in a stable condition.

The infection was confirmed on the first day of the holiday, during which Chinese people are expected to make 3 billion trips. More than 7 million people are likely to travel overseas during the weeklong holiday, including to Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed Cabinet members Friday to ensure thorough checks at borders and provide information to the public quickly.

The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, cautioned against traveling to Hubei Province, raising the warning level to 3 on its four-point scale. The ministry had issued a level 2 warning for Wuhan, the provincial capital, on Thursday, advising against nonessential travel.

More than 700 Japanese nationals reside in or are currently visiting Wuhan, according to the ministry.

Japan confirmed its first infection related to the pneumonia-causing virus on Jan. 15, a Chinese national in his 30s who returned to his home in Kanagawa Prefecture after traveling to Wuhan.

The second patient arrived in the country last Sunday after contracting a fever five days before and had not left Tokyo since visiting a hospital on Monday, according to the health ministry.

The man, whose symptoms had eased by the time he arrived in Japan, had visited a hospital in China on Jan. 15 and Jan. 17.

He visited a hospital in Tokyo on Monday, and as he continued to have a fever and a sore throat returned for another checkup on Wednesday, when he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

The man was transferred to a different Tokyo hospital and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus, which has killed at least 26 in China and infected around 900 in Asia and the United States. The institute informed the health ministry of the infection around 1 a.m. Friday.

The patient said he had mostly stayed in his hotel room and that he wore a mask when going outside, according to officials. He also said he had not visited the seafood market in Wuhan linked to the initial outbreak, they said.

Two family members he traveled with and around 20 medical staff who have been in close contact with him are being monitored, according to the health ministry. They have not shown any symptoms such as a high fever, it said.

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