(South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks to a president of Daegu Medical Center, You Wan-sik, right, at the Daegu Medical Center on Feb. 25, 2020 in Daegu, South Korea.)[South Korean Presidential Blue House handout/Getty/Kyodo]

TOKYO - Japan plans to ban entry by foreign nationals who have visited the South Korean city of Daegu and neighboring county of Cheongdo in North Gyeongsang Province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, government sources said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government will approve the ban during a meeting on the pneumonia-causing virus in the afternoon, the sources said.

The entry ban, expected to take effect midnight Wednesday, is likely to target foreign nationals who have been in the city or county within two weeks of their arrival in Japan, they said.

The plan came a day after the Japanese Foreign Ministry raised its travel alert for the city and the county in southeastern South Korea, asking Japanese people not to make nonessential trips to the area.

So far, Japan has barred entry to foreign nationals who have been in China's Hubei Province -- whose provincial capital is Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak -- and Zhejiang Province.

Separately, a Japanese civil group said it has cancelled a plan to send about 15 high school students to South Korea in late March for an exchange program to call for abolishing nuclear weapons. It has been organizing such trips annually since 2003.

The students had been scheduled to meet with South Korea-based survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and engage in other activities during the trip to Busan and elsewhere from March 27 to 30.

South Korea reported 169 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections in the country above 1,000, a surge from only 51 a week ago.

About 80 percent of confirmed cases came from two clusters of infections -- at a branch of a religious sect in Daegu and a hospital in Cheongdo, according to South Korean media.

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