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13 Kyoto students infected with new coronavirus after overseas trip, graduation party

Kyoto City Hall is seen in the city's Nakagyo Ward. (Mainichi/Yusuke Kaite)

KYOTO -- The Kyoto prefectural and municipal governments on March 30 announced that a total of 13 male and female students at Kyoto Sangyo University in this western Japan city's Kita Ward had been confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus.

The infected students include three male students who went on a trip to Europe, as well as those who participated in a graduation party of a university seminar to which the three belonged.

Officials are checking the health of 52 people who were judged to have been in close contact with the 13 confirmed to have been infected.

"This is indeed a new cluster. It's an extremely serious situation," Kyoto Gov. Takatoshi Nishiwaki said in a news conference on March 30.

City and other officials said the three male students traveled to the United Kingdom, Iceland, Switzerland, France and Spain between March 2 and 13, and returned to Japan on March 14. A fourth person who traveled with them did not contract the virus.

On March 19, 21, and 22, all three of the male students took part in social gatherings relating to their seminar and other circles. Ten people who were in contact with them at these gatherings tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 13.

One of the infected students was a resident of the western Japan prefecture of Wakayama. Prefectural officials said that he was due to begin working as a teacher in the prefecture this spring, and had gone to the school to greet people there on March 27. He also attended a briefing for new teachers in the city of Tanabe in the prefecture that about 125 people took part in. The prefectural government is set to examine the health of six people judged to have been in close contact with him.

Besides these students, officials also confirmed the infection of three male workers from the Kyoto Prefecture town of Ide who were in contact with one of the students.

Kyoto Sangyo University has delayed the start of the new term until May 11. For the time being it will ban students from entering the university in principle after disinfecting the university facilities.

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Odanaka and Kanae Soejima, Kyoto Bureau)

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