• Kyodo


Japan started monitoring travelers from South Korea more closely Thursday to keep the regional outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome at bay, while businesses began taking precautions.

The potentially deadly coronavirus has so far caused four deaths and infected dozens in South Korea. Some Japanese companies have put off business trips to the affected areas, and orders for antibacterial products are once again on the rise.

As part of the health ministry’s steps, passengers from South Korea will be asked at quarantine stations in airports and ports if they have come in contact with patients suspected of contracting the virus. Similar steps were taken to deal with the international outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus last year.

Passengers showing symptoms of acute respiratory illness with a fever of 38 degrees or above will be required to be tested. Those with no fever will be required to check their body temperature twice a day for up to 14 days and regularly report their condition, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The ministry is also asking those who had contact with MERS patients and developed a fever after arriving in Japan to notify a public health care center and undergo further checks.

“The spread of the infection was mainly seen inside medical institutions in South Korea, so there is a low possibility that Japan will see an outbreak now. But we are strengthening our measures as a precaution,” a health official said.

Hospitals across the country will be required to notify local health care centers as soon as someone develops a fever and displays other symptoms within 14 days of making contact with a MERS patient, or when someone suspected of contracting the virus drops by.

Companies with branches in South Korea have told employees to take preventive measures and stay alert for updates on the outbreak.

Soap and detergent manufacturer Lion Corp. is considering postponing business trips not only to South Korea, but also to the United Arab Emirates, a company official said.

Fumakilla Ltd., a manufacturer of daily goods, has seen a spike in inquiries about its antibacterial and anti-virus products since Wednesday. “If we continue to see orders coming in like this, we will consider increasing production,” a Fumakilla official said.