TOKYO – Japan on Tuesday classified pneumonia caused by a new deadly coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan as a “designated infectious disease” legally allowing compulsory hospitalization.
The designation approved by the Cabinet will also restrict infected patients from going to work and require disinfection of sites where the virus has been detected.
The government will use public money to pay for the medical treatment of those subject to forced hospitalization. About 400 specified medical institutions across Japan will be able to provide treatment.
It is the fifth time Japan has invoked the designation, and the first since the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, in 2014.
Other legally allowed emergency measures include requiring doctors to report any patients who test positive for the coronavirus.
Such steps are the same as those taken in the past for other infectious diseases designated by the government as Class II such as MERS and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
Under the law, infectious diseases are divided into five classes depending on their severity.
The government is also arranging charter flights for Japanese nationals who wish to return home from Wuhan, a city of 11 million that has been on a virtual lockdown since last week.
Japan is aiming to send a charter flight Tuesday evening for those citizens, a government official said.
“There is no plan for this morning, but we are making arrangements as to whether it can go tonight,” the official said.
The pneumonia-causing virus has killed at least 82 in China, mostly in Wuhan, and infected more than 2,800 globally.