Japan PM Kishida COVID positive, cancels African development conference trip

TOKYO, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to cancel a planned trip to Tunisia to attend a key conference on African development, a person close to him said on Sunday.

Kishida, who has just returned from a week-long vacation, will work from his residence from Monday and will join the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) online, the source said, asking not to be identified because he is not authorised to talk to the media.

The prime minister developed a cough and fever on Saturday and took a PCR test on Sunday morning, which confirmed the positive result in the afternoon, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said separately.

The eighth TICAD and the first since 2019 is being co-hosted with the United Nations, the World Bank, and the African Union Commission. Among discussion on measures to bolster development, the gathering will look at ways to help the continent tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kishida's infection comes as Japan experiences a record resurgence in coronavirus cases through July and August, hitting businesses in the world's third-biggest economy, although deaths remain relatively low and the disruptions have been milder than in some other advanced economies.

Japan's economy grew an annualised 2.2% in the second quarter, a slower-than-expected rebound from a COVID-induced slump as uncertainty remains over whether consumption can bolster a fragile recovery. read more

The authorities have eschewed strict lockdowns used in China and other nations throughout the pandemic, relying on broad usage of mask wearing and social distancing to curb infections.

Reporting by Rocky Swift and Kentaro Sugiyama; Editing by William Mallard and David Clarke

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