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News cameraman tests positive for coronavirus after covering rain-hit SW Japan

In this file photo taken on July 2, Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima speaks at a news conference in Kumamoto's Chuo Ward. (Mainichi/Hayato Jojima)

KUMAMOTO -- The Kumamoto Prefectural Government and news agency Jiji Press announced July 16 that an agency cameraman who traveled to the southwestern Japan prefecture to cover torrential rain there has been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The photographer, a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, who in in his 30s, was in the rain-hit area from July 13 to 15. On the morning of July 16, he developed a fever and cough, and consulted with a public health center. When he took a polymerase chain reaction test for the coronavirus, the result came back positive.

In a news conference on July 17, Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima called on those participating in activities in the rain-hit areas in the prefecture to check their health first.

"Before setting out on your activities, I would like to ask you to check your health and voluntarily refrain from activities when you are feeling unwell," he said.

The cameraman had flown from Tokyo to Kumamoto on July 13, and stayed at a hotel within the jurisdiction of the Yatsushiro Public Health Center in Kumamoto Prefecture. He used a rental car to get around the local area, and rode in a taxi for part of his trip. He reportedly wore a mask at all times when covering the area.

The prefectural government said that only two people were in close contact with the photographer: the taxi driver and a reporter who accompanied him. Officials have not confirmed any close contact between the cameraman and those who suffered damage in the downpours that heavily flooded parts of the prefecture.

(Japanese original by Yasuhisa Yamamoto and Kentaro Mori, Kumamoto Bureau)

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