A Canadian journalist who traveled from West Africa and showed an elevated body temperature upon arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda airport Monday tested negative for the Ebola virus, the health ministry said Tuesday.
Out of an abundance of caution, the man — who currently shows no signs of fever — will remain hospitalized and under observation at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward for at least three days, the ministry said.
He will be released if another blood test, to be carried out after three days, comes up negative, it added.
The man had worked in Liberia for around two months from Aug. 18.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet held its first Ebola prevention meeting of ministers the same day.
“We called this ministerial meeting to enhance our emergency response,” Abe said in opening remarks at the meeting after health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki gave a briefing on the Haneda case, which could potentially be the country’s the first case of Ebola.
“(Ebola) infection has not been confirmed at this point, but we realize the importance of preparatory measures, including quarantine,” Abe added.
The Canadian man, who according to NHK is 45 years old, was in Liberia to report on Ebola in the hardest-hit country, and left West Africa about 10 days ago for Belgium, the ministry said. He arrived at Haneda airport Monday afternoon on an All Nippon Airways flight from London.
After declaring his travel history at the airport’s quarantine station he was found to have a fever of 37.8 C. He was then sent to the national center and a blood sample was sent to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases to see if it contained genes from the virus.
The health minister, speaking at a news conference after the anti-Ebola meeting, expressed some satisfaction with how Japanese officials handled the nearest thing to an Ebola case the country has faced.
“We were ready for all kinds of scenarios,” Shiozaki said. “We were able to carry out most of the procedures up until the test as we had prepared — the initial reaction after finding the patient at the quarantine station, transportation and police cooperation.”
Also Tuesday, ANA said quarantine authorities the previous night disinfected the aircraft the man had traveled on.
At a separate news conference, transport minister Akihiro Ota said officials took appropriate steps by checking the man’s itinerary between West Africa and Tokyo.
The number of people infected or suspected of being infected with Ebola has surpassed 10,000, with the death toll from the epidemic nearing 5,000, according to figures released by the World Health Organization last week.
Outside Africa, there have also been Ebola cases in Spain and the United States.
A total of 189 other passengers and 16 crew members were aboard the Boeing-777 aircraft, according to ANA. The airline has submitted a list of those passengers to the health ministry.