In the face of growing criticism over Japan's response to the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Friday that foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province — where the virus's epicenter of Wuhan is located — in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Japan will be denied entry starting Saturday.

The decision, which will also deny entry to holders of Chinese passports issued in the province, came as opposition parties and some members of the ruling bloc criticized the government's plan to bill evacuees from Wuhan for their flights home and hotel arrangements that forced two evacuees, who were later diagnosed with the coronavirus, to share a room with people who weren't infected.

Abe also said the government is considering subsidizing airfares for the charter flights out of the virus's epicenter. He also said the government will move up the implementation of an ordinance naming the virus a "designated infectious disease" to Saturday.