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Coronavirus

Japanese driver of Chinese tourist bus contracts coronavirus

Man developed symptoms while ferrying Wuhan groups from Osaka to Tokyo

Chinese tourists board a bus after shopping in Tokyo's Akihabara district on Jan. 27. (Photo by Arisa Moriyama)

TOKYO -- Japan's health ministry announced on Tuesday that a bus driver in Japan who had not visited the Chinese city of Wuhan has contracted the new coronavirus.

The Japanese man in his 60s, a resident of Nara Prefecture, is believed to be the first case of the virus in Japan not linked to recent travel to China.

The infected person drove tour buses for Chinese groups from Wuhan in January, ferrying them from Osaka to Tokyo and back. On Jan. 17, he saw a doctor for symptoms including chills and a cough that had appeared three days earlier, but he was told only to monitor his condition, according to the ministry.

His condition had worsened by Saturday, and he was admitted to an area hospital. 

Separately, two Wuhan residents, both in their 40s, were confirmed to have the new coronavirus in Japan. These two patients bring the number of cases in the country to seven, according to the health ministry.

As the number of cases grows, the ministry on Tuesday opened a call center that provides consultations on the virus. Starting as early as Wednesday, the ministry will also provide information including where to find multilingual medical care facilities.

To better prevent infection from entering the country, all travelers arriving from China, not just those from Wuhan, will be asked to fill out a form providing their contact information and health condition.

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