TOKYO, Jan 31 — Japan said today that it would bring forward the date that the coronavirus will become a “designated infectious disease” to tomorrow from February 7, as a third chartered flight carrying Japanese citizens arrived from Wuhan.
Japan now has 14 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, an epidemic that is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Two of those returned on the first chartered flight and had shown no symptoms.
As worries grew in Japan over a further spread of the disease, the government said it would refuse entry to anyone infected and consider stricter screening for suspected cases, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Suga also told a news conference that the government would consider paying for the chartered flights out of Wuhan, as opposition lawmakers criticised its policy of charging passengers 80,000 yen (RM3,003) each.
“We decided on these changes in view of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) declaration of a global emergency,” Suga said.
The government classified the new coronavirus as a designated infectious disease on Tuesday, but the designation was only set to take effect on February 7 after ordinances are issued, in line with regulations. The designation allows compulsory hospitalisation and the use of public funds for treatment, among other measures.
The third flight out of Wuhan, which arrived this morning, brings the total number of expatriated nationals to 565, Suga said. — Reuters