Two Japanese nationals evacuated on the first chartered flight from Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, have pneumonia symptoms but a coronavirus diagnosis has not been confirmed, hospital representatives said on Jan. 29.
Among 206 Japanese nationals evacuated to Tokyo on Wednesday, four passengers showing symptoms of fever or coughing were taken to a hospital designated for infectious disease. Two showed signs of having pneumonia following scans.
A fifth passenger who later fell ill and was taken to a different hospital in Tokyo is not showing symptoms of the virus but is being monitored.
Other passengers have been asked to return home or stay at a nearby hotel after a check-up, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Japan has confirmed seven patients have the virus, including a Japanese tour bus driver who had been infected after coming into contact with Chinese visitors—the first reported case of a possible transmission inside Japan, according to the health ministry.
“I was extremely worried that I was stuck there while the situation was changing very rapidly,” Takeo Aoyama, a Nippon Steel employee, told reporters at the airport after being evacuated from Wuhan, which is in virtual lockdown.
“I feel really relieved now that I have been brought back in a speedy manner like this on a chartered flight,” said Aoyama, who was wearing a mask.
The government has said that a total of 650 Japanese citizens were hoping to be evacuated, and that it was making arrangements for additional flights. The government will set up a special task force to deal with the epidemic on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
“We must act with the understanding that the situation is now different. We have come to a new stage,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said in parliament, a day after confirmation of the first suspected person-to-person infection within Japan.
By Akira Tomoshige, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Sakura Murakami, Chang-Ran Kim, and Sam Nussey