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The Maritime Self-Defense Force has put off the departure of an Aegis destroyer for Hawaii from Thursday due to a novel coronavirus infection case, the MSDF leader said Tuesday.

This was announced by MSDF Chief of Staff Adm. Hiroshi Yamamura after a crew member of the Ashigara Aegis vessel was found infected.

The destroyer will stay at Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture for the time being as those who had close contact with the infected member are being isolated.

The destroyer is set to join the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, naval exercises to be held off Hawaii between Aug. 17 and 31.

The Ise helicopter-carrying destroyer will leave for Hawaii on Thursday to join the drills.

According to Yamamura, the crew member tested positive Saturday in blanket polymerase chain reaction tests conducted on the crews of the two destroyers.

Twenty-one people were found to have had close contact with the infected crew member.

A senior MSDF official said the Ashigara will arrive in Hawaii in time for the drills.

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