• Kyodo

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The Maritime Self-Defense Force said Tuesday eight senior officials, including its top two officers, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and will be working remotely under quarantine.

Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura and Vice Chief of Staff Naruto Nishi took polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests Monday after it was determined that they may have been in close contact with someone who had contracted the virus.

A source familiar with the case said a meeting involving three aides to the chiefs of staff of the Self-Defense Forces' three units — maritime, ground and air — may have resulted in an expansion of infections at the Maritime Staff Office.

However, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi had no close contact with the officers.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said the top two officers have not developed any symptoms and that he did not detect any problems in the SDF's operations.

The MSDF said it will strengthen anti-virus measures so as to prevent further virus spread.

As of Monday, a total of more than 420 ministry officials and SDF members had been infected with the virus.

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