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East Japan 7-Eleven employee causes store closure with fake virus infection claim

The 7-Eleven convenience store logo is seen in this file image.

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki -- A 7-Eleven convenience store here has been forced to close temporarily after an employee lied about testing positive for the novel coronavirus, Seven-Eleven Japan Co. announced on June 12.

The 7-Eleven Tsukuba Osuna branch in this eastern Japan city closed June 9 after receiving the false infection report, and will reopen on June 14. The company is considering legal action against the employee.

According to Seven-Eleven Japan, on June 9 the employee told the owner of the branch, "I had a test (for the coronavirus) at a hospital connected with another job I have in Tokyo. It came back positive." In response, the store closed to prevent transmission to customers and employees, and disinfection work went ahead.

On June 10, the employee's infection and the shop's closure were officially announced, but neither the Ibaraki Prefectural Government nor Seven-Eleven Japan could obtain evidence confirming the positive test. On June 11, the employee informed the store's owner that the infection claim was untrue, and also admitted during a company investigation that the report had been false.

The employee was quoted as telling the store owner, "I was thinking about changing jobs, and I did what I did as a way to quit." Seven-Eleven Japan said, "We announced that an 'infection had been confirmed' based on the person in question's verbal account. We apologize unreservedly."

The prefectural government commented that the incident had "created anxiety for the people of this prefecture. It is truly regrettable."

(Japanese original by Shinpei Torii, Mito Bureau)

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