Coronavirus: People testing positive for deadly virus despite showing no symptoms

'We are in a truly new situation,' Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato tells parliament

Coronavirus: Britons will not fly home from Wuhan on Thursday

Three Japanese people who returned from China have been confirmed as infected with coronavirus, with two not displaying any symptoms before testing positive.

The passengers, who will be treated in a special medical facility, were among 206 people aboard the first evacuation flight from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, to Tokyo which arrived on Wednesday.

The three new cases include a man in his 50s who complained of symptoms upon his return and two other patients in their 40s and 50s who displayed no symptoms.

The lack of symptoms is concerning as it means the number of those infected could be higher and the spread of the virus is not being contained.

The World Health Organisation is meeting in Geneva on Thursday to deliberate whether the deadly infection should now be classed as a global emergency.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament: “We are in a truly new situation,” as he confirmed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan now stands at 11, including two cases of human-to-human transmission.

Those who contracted the deadly virus without visiting China include a driver who worked with Chinese tourists earlier this month and subsequently developed symptoms.

Two passengers aboard the first evacuation flight have refused to be tested in a move described by Prime Minister Abe as “regrettable” and “extremely unfortunate”.

Japan officially recognised the virus as a “designated infectious disease” on Tuesday, meaning compulsory hospitalisation and public funding of treatment would be available for all those who display symptoms.

Mr Abe added he would do “everything necessary” to protect the health and wellbeing of Japanese citizens.

The second flight evacuating citizens landed in the early hours of Thursday morning, with 13 people onboard reporting symptoms and immediately entering hospitalisation, according to NHK.

Around 300 Japanese citizens remain in Wuhan, with the Foreign Ministry planning another evacuation flight.

The total death toll stands at 170 – all in China – with the number of confirmed cases reaching 7, 711 on Thursday.

Cases of coronavirus have been reported in 15 countries around the world, with human-to-human transmission confirmed in Japan, Germany, and Vietnam.

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