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A Maritime Self-Defense Force member aboard a Middle East-bound MSDF destroyer has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Defense Ministry's Joint Staff Office said Tuesday.

The infected member, in his 20s, left the MSDF base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, aboard the Murasame destroyer on Sunday to engage in a mission to gather information in order to ensure sea lane safety for Japan-linked ships sailing in the Middle East.

The destroyer is now set to return to the Yokosuka base to undergo an investigation by a public health care center.

According to the Joint Staff Office, all crew members of the Murasame took polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 after leaving the Yokosuka base. All the other members tested negative for the virus.

The crew members were scheduled to engage in training in waters near Japan for 14 days after departure while monitoring their health conditions.

The office said the return of the destroyer will not affect the information gathering mission in the Middle East.

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