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Coronavirus

Japan confirms first case of new China virus

Kanagawa resident had traveled to Wuhan before returning to Japan

The Kanagawa resident who suffered a bout with the new virus did not visit this Wuhan seafood market, where the pneumonialike illness first broke out.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japan has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus from China, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced on Thursday.

A man in his 30s who traveled to Wuhan, eastern China, where the pneumonialike virus broke out, tested positive for the virus after returning to Japan, the ministry said.

The man, a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture, next to Tokyo, returned to Japan on Jan. 6; he began feeling feverish on Jan. 3 while still in Wuhan.

Four days after arriving in Japan, he was hospitalized. On Wednesday he was discharged, having recovered.

The virus has infected dozens of people in China since the outbreak began last month. Preliminary evidence suggested a connection between the outbreak and exposure to a Wuhan seafood market.

According to the ministry, the man did not visit the seafood market but may have been in contact with an infected patient.

"It has not been confirmed at this moment that sustained human-to-human infections can occur," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday. Suga added that the government will provide appropriate information regarding the new virus.

The man is currently staying at home, and the ministry is monitoring  the health of his family members who live with him.

Japan appears to be the third country with a confirmed case. On Wednesday, Thai officials said a Chinese woman infected with the virus was under quarantine in the Southeast Asian country. The 61-year-old tourist had arrived in the kingdom the same day and began experiencing a high fever and breathing difficulties. She said she had not visited the seafood market.

Japan's health ministry, which screens all inbound travelers for high temperatures, began displaying posters at quarantine booths across the country last week. The posters call on people to come forward if they have visited Wuhan and have become sick.

In addition, the health ministry has called on hospitals to swiftly report if they are treating patients who have been to Wuhan and are exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia.

China entered a 40-day Lunar New Year holiday season on Friday, during which 3 billion trips are expected to be made, as its citizens travel back to their hometowns or go on trips abroad. Ctrip.com, China's largest online travel operator, says the most popular overseas destination is Japan, followed by Thailand.

The World Health Organization has said the virus could spread and has warned hospitals around the world to take measures.

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