Japan's Narita Airport offers cardboard beds for travellers awaiting coronavirus all-clear

  • World
  • Monday, 13 Apr 2020

In this April 8, 2020 photo provided by Naohiro Katsuta, people wait their test results for the coronavirus at temporary beds made with cardboard boxes at Narita International Airport in Narita, near Tokyo. Cardboard boxes are being readied at Tokyo's Narita international airport for quarantine as arriving people wait for test results for the coronavirus. Shotaro Tajima, a Japanese Health Ministry official in the contagious diseases section, said people are now at nearby hotels and have not had to stay in the boxes. If cases grow, people may need to wait longer for test results, which usually come back within several hours. Japan is requiring tests for people who fly in from dozens of nations, including the U.S., China and Italy. (Naohiro Katsuta via AP)

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Narita Airport has prepared an impromptu hotel of cardboard beds and quilts in its baggage-claim area for passengers from overseas who might have to stay there while awaiting the results of tests for the novel coronavirus.

Though flights at Narita are down so sharply that the airport has closed one of its runways, planes are still landing with passengers arriving from countries including the United States and Italy who are required to undergo tests for the virus before they can head home.

Results can come as quickly as six hours, but delays now mean many take as long as one or two days, an official at the Health Ministry said, declining to give his name.

With passengers forbidden to take public transportation, those with nobody to pick them up have to wait - and the cardboard beds have been readied in case nearby facilities currently being used to house passengers are full, he added.

Developed for use in evacuation centres during disasters and any other time when temporary bedding is needed, the beds - made of heavy-duty cardboard - contain a mattress and a quilt.

"There are facilities near the airport for people to stay, so as far as I know the beds haven't been used yet - or if they have, it's only been very briefly," the official said.

Japan last week declared a state of emergency in major population centres to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The number of cases in the country is at least 7,400, with 137 deaths, public broadcaster NHK said.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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