Three members of the Hanshin Tigers have tested positive for the coronavirus, the team announced on Friday, becoming the first baseball players in Japan confirmed with the virus.
Shintaro Fujinami, Hayata Ito and Kenya Nagasaka were confirmed as being infected with the virus after taking polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests the previous day, the team said in a statement.
The team had said on Thursday that Fujinami was taking a PCR test after reporting he had lost his sense of smell. Utah Jazz basketball center Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player to test positive, had reported the same symptom.
“I am sorry to announce that their test results came back positive,” Hanshin Tigers President Kenji Ageshio said in a statement.
“We will do our best to prevent the spread of infection with the cooperation of health centers, local advisers, and team doctors,” he said.
Almost 531,500 people have been infected by the virus globally and over 24,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
The outbreak has also brought global sport to a standstill, with athletes from the NBA and European soccer among those to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Japan overall has seen a relatively low number of infections compared with the United States and Europe but a recent jump in Tokyo cases prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to describe the coronavirus as a “national crisis.”
Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Peter Rutherford