66 new cases on quarantined ship

Source:Agencies Published: 2020/2/10 18:03:40

136 passengers on Diamond Princess have been infected

Military personnel set up a covered walkway (bottom) next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined on board due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on Monday. Photo: AFP


Sixty-six new infections of the coronavirus have been confirmed on board the Diamond Princess ship off the coast of Japan, the ship's operator, Princess Cruises, said in a statement, bringing the total number of infected to 136.

Health officials had confirmed that among the new infections there were 45 Japanese nationals, 11 Americans, four Australians, three from the Philippines and one each from Canada and Ukraine.

The Diamond Princess has been in quarantine since arriving off the Japanese coast early last week after the virus was detected in a former passenger who got off the ship last month in Hong Kong.

When the boat arrived off ­Japan, authorities initially tested nearly 300 people for the ­virus of the 3,711 on board, gradually evacuating dozens who were infected to local medical facilities.

In recent days, testing has expanded to those with new symptoms or who had close contact with other infected passengers or crew, and several more cases were reported over the weekend.

Those who remain on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins and allowed only briefly onto open decks.

They have been asked to wear masks and keep a distance from each other when outside, and given thermometers to regularly monitor their temperatures.

The ship is expected to stay in quarantine until February 19 - 14 days after the isolation period began.

The quarantine has made life on board the ship difficult, particularly for those in windowless interior cabins and a significant number of passengers who require medication for various chronic conditions.

The health ministry said Monday that around 600 people on board urgently needed medication, and around half received supplies over the weekend.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters that discussions were ongoing about how to increase testing capacity and also whether testing would take place after passengers are released from quarantine.

The World Health Organization confirmed in a tweet that newly diagnosed cases on the ship should not extend the length of the quarantine.

"The period will be extended beyond the 19 Feb as appropriate only for close contacts of newly confirmed cases. They need to remain in quarantine for 14 days from last contact with a confirmed case," the WHO said in a tweet.

On board the ship, news of the additional infections sparked worry for some, with passenger Yardley Wong tweeting "stress and high anxiety."

"I need to cry to get off the anxiety," she wrote.

Passengers also tweeted pictures of new supplies delivered to the quarantined passengers  Monday: wet wipes and heavy-duty filtration face masks.

There are 26 confirmed cases of the new virus in Japan apart from the infections on board the ship, among them citizens evacuated from ­Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak emerged.


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