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Man, 69, arrested after claiming on flight ‘positive test’ for coronavirus

CHIBA (TR) – Chiba Prefectural Police last week arrested a 69-year-old man who while aboard a Jetstar Japan flight claimed he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, reports NHK (Mar. 27).

At around 4:55 p.m. on March 26, Norihiro Kojima, of no known occupation, was aboard the flight. “I tested positive, but I’m fine,” he allegedly told a cabin attendant in referring to the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

After the plane returned to the terminal, police arrested Kojima on suspicion of disruption of business through deception. “I did not say that,” Kojima was quoted by the Narita International Airport Police Station in denying the allegations.

Norihiro Kojima (Twitter)

Kojima is a resident of Toon City, Ehime Prefecture. The Jetstar Japan flight was bound for Matsuyama City, Ehime.

After Kojima made the claim about the virus, the cabin attendant alerted the pilot. The total delay to the flight, which had 14 passengers aboard, was 75 minutes, police said.

No symptoms of COVID-19

According to police, Kojima showed no symptoms of COVID-19, such has a fever or coughing. However, he was scheduled to visit a hospital.

“After contacting a health center, we determined that he was lying since had he truly been confirmed to be positive he would be in a hospital,” a representative of Jetstar Japan said. “As tension continues to rise over the new coronavirus, we want to avoid malicious behavior.”

According to data from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of coronavirus infections in Japan rose by 200 on Saturday to 2,436.

Of that figure, 712 cases are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which until recently was docked at Yokohama Port.

“Prolonged battle”

Last week, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged residents to not embark on non-essential outings this weekend, a request aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.

“I have to say that people need to brace for a battle [against the coronavirus] that could be prolonged,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a press conference on Saturday, according to the Mainichi Shimbun (Mar. 28).