Yoshihide Suga, the main government spokesman, said in an information session on Tuesday that the government “is currently making preparations so that clinical trials using HIV drugs in the new coronavirus can begin as soon as possible.”

Suga said he could not comment how long it would take to approve the new drug.

The total number of confirmed infections in Japan stood at 520 as of Monday, including 454 cases of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in quarantine in front of the Yokohama port, according to the Ministry of Health of Japan. A person has died from the virus so far.

With the contraction of the Japanese economy, which increases the risk of a recession, the spread of the coronavirus has led Tokyo to put limits on public crowds, while some companies have begun to urge employees to work from home.

HIV treatment trials in Tokyo occur when these medications are promoted as a possible cure for coronavirus worldwide. Without a therapy that has proven 100% effective against the virus so far, about 1900 people have died in the epidemic in mainland China.

People in China have begun exploring unorthodox ways of getting treatments, and some attract HIV patients and unauthorized importers of medicines.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, doctors said they seemed to have had some success in treating severe cases of coronavirus with a combination of flu and HIV medications.

Meanwhile, more than 300 Americans who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship returned to their homes through US government evacuation flights on Monday.

The ship has been in quarantine since the beginning of this month, leaving more than 3,000 passengers and crew members locked up, after a passenger who had left the ship in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

About half of the passengers aboard the Diamond Princess are Japanese with the rest of the foreign citizens, many of whom have expressed frustration over the quarantine.

Foreign governments, including Canada, Australia, Italy and South Korea, are now also planning evacuations for their citizens on the cruise.

Japanese passengers who are negative will begin disembarking on Wednesday, the original deadline for the end of the ship’s quarantine, said Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato.

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