Veteran comedian Ken Shimura has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his agency said Wednesday, making him the first Japanese entertainment figure to announce their infection publicly.

Shimura, 70, is known for performing popular characters such as "Baka Tonosama" (stupid lord) and "Henna Ojisan" (strange uncle) on TV shows. He was scheduled to start working in April on a movie based on the book "The Name Above the Title."

(Ken Shimura, center, in 2016)

Outside Japan, celebrities including Tom Hanks, Idris Elba and Olga Kurylenko have announced being infected with the pneumonia-causing virus.

Shimura was hospitalized on March 20 after developing a fever and being diagnosed with severe pneumonia, according to the agency. He tested positive on Monday.

The agency has identified people who were in close contact with Shimura between March 17, when he first started showing symptoms, and March 20, when he saw a doctor.

It was not immediately known how he became infected, the agency said.