Health ministry staff test positive after party

Japan's health ministry says three of its employees have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a farewell party last month at a restaurant in Tokyo.

A total of 23 employees at the Health and Welfare Bureau for the Elderly joined the party on March 24.

Some of them stayed until nearly midnight, despite a request from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for restaurants to close by 9 p.m.

The ministry says three people who were at the party have been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Three others who did not attend have also tested positive.

The employees have reportedly developed fever and other symptoms since last weekend. The ministry says it's unclear whether the infections are linked to the party.
The local public health office is tracing the route of infection.

The disclosure effectively forced a section chief from his post and prompted health minister Tamura Norihisa to give up two months of his ministerial pay.

Tamura has apologized again for the party. Speaking in the Diet on Thursday, he admitted that three of the infected people had attended the party, but said it's up to the public health office to decide where and how they contracted the virus.