TOKYO (Reuters) – Two of three Japanese people evacuated from China and found to be infected with a new coronavirus had not shown symptoms, the health ministry said on Thursday, adding to worries about the fast-spreading virus and its economic fallout.

The three cases were among 206 Japanese people who were evacuated to Tokyo on Wednesday from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic that has killed 170 people in China and infected nearly 8,000.

While the vast majority of cases have been in China, more than 100 cases have also appeared in about 15 other countries. Later on Thursday, a Chinese man in his 50s, who had previously stayed in Wuhan, was found be infected in the western prefecture of Mie, Kyodo news agency reported, bringing the total number of cases in Japan to 12 including the three evacuees.

The two people who were confirmed as infected but had not shown symptoms were the first such cases in Japan, though suspicion has been rising elsewhere that people who have the virus but no symptoms can infect others.

That would make the virus much more difficult to control.

Japan on Tuesday classified the virus a “designated infectious disease”, which would allow compulsory hospitalization and the use of public funds for treatment.

But the designation – which takes effect on Feb. 7 after ordinances are issued – does not apply to people without symptoms.

Asked about concern over transmission of the virus from people who have not shown symptoms, a health ministry official said it was not clear whether that had happened.

Shigeru Omi, head of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, told a briefing that there were reports of such transmissions in China.

Chinese National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said this week the virus was infectious during incubation, which can range from one to 14 days.

A second charter flight carrying 210 Japanese nationals arrived in Tokyo on Thursday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 13 of them felt unwell.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, inaugurating a task force to deal with the virus, said the government would take all steps to prevent its spread, including tracking and checking people who had been in Wuhan.

Among Japan’s 12 cases is a tour bus driver who was infected after coming into contact with Chinese visitors.

Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya speaking to investors, said the impact of the virus would depended on its spread but China’s global presence was greater than when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which also originated in China, killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

ANA Holdings, Japan’s biggest carrier, said its bookings for flights from China in February fell by half, while those for flights to China plunged 60%.

“The concern is of the impact that the situation could have on China’s economy and the knock on that will have on things like air cargo,” ANA Executive Vice President Ichiro Fukuzawa told a news conference after the release of quarterly earnings.

Moody’s rating service said the economic risk to China’s neighbors was likely to be greater than from SARS.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Ami Miyazaki and Kiyoshi Takenaka, Ju-min Park, Naomi Tajitsu, Tim Kelly, Tetsushi Kajimoto and Elaine Lies; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Sam Holmes, Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Great audiobooks to listen to on lockdown

For those staying at home during the pandemic, the entertainment options might soon run low. There are only so many podcasts released each week, and streaming TV shows and films for 18 hours straight is no more practical than reading…

Twitter to give users more information about where their data goes

Twitter is launching a site to provide clarity on its data protection efforts The changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020 China’s national internet finance association warns that all member institutions should take personal responsibility for corrective action on…

Dozens of Palestinians face ‘terrorism court’ in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has put dozens of Palestinian activists on trial, accusing them of supporting the Gaza-based rulers Hamas. According to Arabic press reports, 68 Palestinian and Jordanian citizens faced the “special terrorism court” in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, beginning on Sunday. Families…

Pope relieved by key England innings

Ollie Pope shared his relief at getting some substantial runs under his belt after revealing the biosecure environment that England are operating in this summer had hindered his ability to switch off. Surrey’s 22-year-old middle order prodigy made his maiden…