Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a meeting of the virus infections disease response headquarters on Feb. 12 at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo. (Takeshi Iwashita)

Japan will deny entry to people from another Chinese province to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and strengthened its travel advisory for Japanese citizens to avoid trips to China.

Starting on Feb. 13, foreign nationals who have visited Zhejiang province or whose passports were issued by the province will be refused entry into Japan, except in exceptional cases.

The same blanket ban has been imposed since Feb. 1 for travelers from the Chinese province of Hubei, whose capital, Wuhan, is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Things have changed from hour to hour,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting of the virus infections disease response headquarters on the morning of Feb. 12. “We need to take action to implement a more comprehensive and agile border control to stop the inflow of the infectious disease into Japan.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at his morning news conference said the government made the decision to expand the entry ban after comprehensively assessing various factors, such as the presence or absence of restrictions on movement and the state of the medical care system in the region.

Abe at the meeting also promised to simplify the administrative process to deny entry. From now, Cabinet approval will not be needed to bar entry to foreign nationals from regions in China where the virus has spread and those aboard ships with suspected cases of pneumonia caused by the pathogen.

The Foreign Ministry on Feb. 12 issued a more strongly worded advisory for Japanese expats in China to “immediately consider returning to Japan temporarily” and for those who plan to visit China to “postpone the travel.”

The ministry on Feb. 6 issued a similar travel advisory, asking the same people to “proactively” consider their options.

During the Lower House Budget Committee meeting in the morning, Abe also said the government will draft an emergency economic package by the end of the week in response to the epidemic.

The government will tap into the reserve fund to finance small and medium-sized business, such as hotels, that have suffered revenue losses from the decrease in foreign visitors.

Money will also be allotted to set up assistance service windows and other measures, Abe said, in response to a question from ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Noriko Horiuchi.