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Japan PM Kishida tests positive for COVID, cancels Tunisia trip

Leader will attend African development conference online, source says

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, visits Mishima Taisha shrine in the Shizuoka Prefecture city of Mishima on Aug. 18 during his summer holiday.   © Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to cancel a planned trip to Tunisia to attend a key conference on African development, a person close to him said on Sunday.

Kishida, who has just returned from a week-long vacation, will work from his residence from Monday and will join the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) online, the source said, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

The prime minister developed a cough and fever on Saturday and took a PCR test on Sunday morning, which confirmed the positive result in the afternoon, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said separately.

The eighth TICAD and the first since 2019 is being co-hosted with the United Nations, the World Bank, and the African Union Commission. Among discussion on measures to bolster development, the gathering will look at ways to help the continent tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kishida's infection comes as Japan experiences a record resurgence in coronavirus cases through July and August, hitting businesses in the world's third-biggest economy, although deaths remain relatively low and the disruptions have been milder than in some other advanced economies.

Japan's economy grew an annualized 2.2% in the second quarter, a slower-than-expected rebound from a COVID-induced slump as uncertainty remains over whether consumption can bolster a fragile recovery.

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