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

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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