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A key government official in charge of Japan's economic response to the coronavirus outbreak called off his public appearances on Saturday to work from home after it was discovered he had been in contact with a staffer who was infected with the coronavirus.

The Cabinet Office said economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura had cancelled a media briefing and would not attend a separate meeting later in the day.

In a statement, the office said it had discovered Nishimura had visited a university hospital last week with an office staffer who later tested positive for the virus.

In past weeks, the minister has become the face of the nation's economic efforts to deal with the coronavirus.

"Neither the minister nor the staffer who tested positive for the virus has shown any symptoms, but as a precaution, the minister will remain at home until he receives further notice on his condition from health authorities," the office said in a statement

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