Source: Government of Japan – Prime Minister
On February 12, 2020, the Prime Minister held the seventh meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters at the Prime Minister’s Office.
At the meeting, a discussion was held on the response to the novel coronavirus.
Based on the discussion, the Prime Minister said,
“To date, in order to prevent an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan, we have been reinforcing border controls in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Control and Refugee Act. This includes measures related to foreign nationals who have any history of staying in or traveling to Hubei Province, where many people have been infected, as well as measures related to passenger ships.
The situation is changing with every moment. In light of the expanding number of infected persons in China and the possibility of passenger ships that are experiencing the epidemic docking in Japan in the future, it is vital to put in place more comprehensive and flexible border control measures so as to prevent the tide of infections from entering Japan.
To that end, we have reviewed the recent Cabinet approval; with respect to foreign nationals visiting Japan from regions in China where there is an outbreak of the virus and foreign nationals onboard passenger ships where infections may have occurred, it has been decided to deny entry to Japan by such foreign nationals without a Cabinet approval, by reporting the regions or passenger ships subject to this measure to this Response Headquarters and announcing that to the public.
In that regard, assessing the number of infected persons and other concerns comprehensively, we are adding Zhejiang Province alongside Hubei Province to the list of such regions, and will deny entry to Japan by foreign nationals with any history of staying in these provinces or who hold passports from these regions, unless there are special circumstances. We will complete the necessary procedures accordingly and make this effective as of midnight, February 13.
Concerning the cruise ship Diamond Princess, we are carrying out polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening for the virus paying maximum attention to maintaining the health of the ship crew and passengers.
Based on instructions that I issued at the meeting of the Response Headquarters held on February 5, we have endeavored to build a PCR screening structure, to enable screening to be carried out not only at public testing institutions such as the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Public Health Institutes, but also at private testing institutions.
As a result, while we currently only have the screening capacity for a maximum of around 300 cases per day, by the time the maximum latency period for the passengers on the cruise ship finishes on February 18, we expect to establish screening capacity of more than 1,000 cases per day.
Until now, domestic surveillance has been conducted on-site only for persons who meet certain criteria, such as those with a history of traveling to Hubei Province. However, we have now clarified that it will be possible to conduct screening on those with certain symptoms based on the discretion of the respective local governments, not limiting it to the aforementioned criteria. Please ensure that this is made known to the relevant entities and implement more thorough domestic surveillance measures.
Furthermore, concerning all those who have returned from Hubei Province to Japan on chartered flights, and who are staying at the facilities prepared by the Government, we will conduct PCR screening on them again after the latency period has passed. Starting with those who returned to Japan on the first chartered flight, if their screening results come back negative, they will successively return to their homes.
I ask everyone to take all the possible precautionary measures by making every effort to communicate with the public in a precise and easy to understand manner and taking advance actions so as to protect the lives and health of the people and ensure peace of mind.”