A blood sample from a man in his 30s who was suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus tested negative Monday in Tokyo after he developed a fever following his return to Japan from Sierra Leone earlier this month, the health ministry said.
There have been three other cases in Japan of suspected infection of the deadly virus since October, but all of them turned out to be false alarms.
The man was quoted as saying he had no direct contact with Ebola patients but that he “touched without special protection” a bag containing an Ebola patient’s body on Dec. 17 during a burial in the epidemic-hit West African country.
He reportedly stayed there for eight days through Dec. 21.
The man, whose name was not released, returned to Japan on Dec. 23 and stayed at home at the request of authorities.
Finding his temperature had risen to 38.2 degrees in the early hours of Monday, he reported his condition to health authorities. But his fever dropped to 37.2 in the morning, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
As of Monday evening the man remained hospitalized at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. His temperature was 37.4 later in the day, the ministry said. A blood sample was sent to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Musashimurayama, Tokyo.
The incubation period for Ebola is between two and 21 days, but symptoms are believed to appear in five to seven days in most cases. In this case, it has been 12 or 13 days since he attended the burial ceremony.
The man is not a medical worker, but a ministry official declined to clarify why he had traveled to Sierra Leone, saying that the ministry had “no detailed information.”