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The government is considering expanding the coverage of its entry ban to also include foreign nationals who have been to the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang in response to the spreading outbreak of the new coronavirus originating in the country, it was learned Tuesday.

Tokyo is studying the expansion as the number of patients is increasing in Zhejiang, government sources said.

From Feb. 1, Japan started to turn away foreign nationals who have stayed in the province of Hubei, including Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral outbreak, within the past two weeks. It also began to refuse entry to those who hold Chinese passports issued by the Hubei provincial government.

Foreign passengers on the Westerdam cruise ship, which departed from Hong Kong, were added last Friday to the list of people to be denied entry to Japan.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, health minister Katsunobu Kato and senior officials from relevant ministries and agencies to get updates on the new coronavirus.

They also discussed a set of emergency measures to be drawn up later this week. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is calling on the Abe government to include an expansion of areas subject to the entry ban in the package.

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