Photo/IllutrationA poster at quarantine station calls for the people returning from Wuhan to declare cough or fever symptoms at Narita Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, on Jan. 9. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A resident of Kanagawa Prefecture who returned from a trip to China earlier this month tested positive for a new coronavirus, the first such case in Japan, the health ministry said Jan. 16.

The man in his 30s had a fever on Jan. 3 while in the city of Wuhan, where a number of people have already been infected with the virus apparently after exposure at a seafood market.

Upon his return Jan. 6, the man went to a medical institution in the prefecture the same day. However, as his fever persisted, he was hospitalized in another facility on Jan. 10.

After the National Institute of Infectious Diseases examined his sample, it confirmed Jan. 15 that he was infected with the new coronavirus. He recovered the same day and was discharged to rest at home.

The central government set up a liaison office at the Cabinet's crisis management center also on the same day, and the ministry asked anyone with a cough or fever symptoms returning from Wuhan to report it to an airport quarantine station.

If such individuals go to a clinic or hospital, they should tell staff members about their travel history in advance, the ministry added.

Coronavirus causes common cold or pneumonia-like symptoms. It is believed that many patients in Wuhan became infected with the virus after inhaling viruses contained in bodily fluids or feces of animals traded at the market.

While the man said he did not go to the market, it is possible that he contracted the virus from a pneumonia patient in Wuhan.

The ministry is looking into who he has been in contact with, such as family members, since returning to Japan, though none of the individuals concerned have exhibited similar symptoms. While the virus can be transmitted between people living in close quarters, no further cases have been confirmed in Japan and its spread is considered unlikely, the ministry said.

At least 41 people have been infected with the virus in China, with one man, who had a chronic disease, dying as a result.

One Chinese woman who visited Thailand from Wuhan also tested positive for the virus.