Japan on Friday warned citizens against non-essential travel to China, including Hong Kong, and fast-tracked new rules to limit the spread of a deadly coronavirus strain as new evacuees arrived in Tokyo.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the travel warning for China would be raised to level two on the country's four-point system, advising people to "avoid travel that is not urgent or is not necessary".
The foreign ministry also raised the level for Hong Kong and Macau, according to their website.
Japan had already raised its travel alert for Hubei province, where the outbreak began, to a level three, warning against any travel to the region.
The top end of the scale advises against all travel and calls for immediate evacuation.
The foreign ministry also issued a statement urging Japanese citizens in China to take safety measures, including possibly returning home temporarily.
The moves come as the government said it would speed up implementation of a decision to label the new virus a level two "designated infectious disease".
The designation allows the forcible hospitalisation of those infected and gives immigration authorities the power to prevent people with the virus from entering the country.
The measures were due to come into effect from February 7, but will now be moved up to February 1, Abe told parliament.
Meanwhile Britain reported its first cases of the virus on Friday.
"We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus," said Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England.
Thailand said the number of coronavirus cases has risen to 19 after a taxi driver who had not been to China became infected, becoming the first person-to-person spread victim in the kingdom. (AFP, AP)
Japan raises travel alert level for Hong Kong
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