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Abe says Japan developing rapid test kit for new coronavirus

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that a rapid test kit for a new coronavirus is being developed for use at institutions across the country, including private ones, amid growing public worries about the viral outbreak.
Japan is stepping up efforts to contain the spread of the virus there as confirmed cases of infections, including foreign nationals traveling from China's Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, have grown to 20.
"We have already embarked on the development of a simple test kit," Abe told a parliamentary session. "As cases of infections in Japan are rising, it's an urgent task to improve testing (for the virus) and enhance consultation services."
Abe made the comments in response to Fumio Kishida, the policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who said that virus testing is currently conducted only at state-run or public institutions such as the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
At a meeting Saturday of the government's task force on the virus, Abe stressed the need to make sure people have access to medical services and supplies, including masks, and instructed ministers to compile measures to cope with the outbreak and its impact on the economy.
Since Saturday, Japan has been barring foreign nationals who have been to the central Chinese province of Hubei in the two weeks prior to their arrival, and holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei.
A total of five foreigners were denied entry on Saturday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, without elaborating.
The death toll from the pneumonia-causing virus in China has reached 361, topping that of the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, on its mainland, according to the country's health authorities.


© KYODO
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