Peru opened the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for a single Japanese tourist after the World Heritage Site was closed for over seven months due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jesse Katayama has been stuck in Peru since March when he bought a ticket for the tourist site just days before the country declared a health emergency.

He told a Peruvian newspaper he had only planned to spend three days in the area, but with flights cancelled and movement limited by the virus, he found himself stuck there for months.

On Saturday, Mr Katayama's dream of visiting Machu Picchu came true as Peru's Culture Minister Alejandro Neyra granted him access after he submitted a special request.

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"The first person on Earth who went to Machu Picchu since the lockdown is meeeeeee," Mr Katayama wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of himself at the majestic mountaintop.

"I thought that I wouldn't be able to go, but thanks to all of you who pleaded with the mayor and the government, I was given this super special opportunity," he added. 

Machu Picchu is the most enduring legacy of the Inca empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

The ruins of the Inca settlement were rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, and in 1983, UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site.

It was originally scheduled to reopen to visitors in July, but that has now been pushed back to November.

Just 675 tourists a day will be allowed in, 30% of the number allowed before the pandemic, with visitors expected to maintain social distancing.

Since it first opened to tourists in 1948, it has been closed just once before, for two months in 2010 when a flood destroyed the railway tracks connecting it to Cusco.

Peru has reported more than 849,000 coronavirus cases and 33,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.