Confirmed virus cases on Diamond Princess up to 218

Source:AFP Published: 2020/2/13 20:53:41

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

Japan said Thursday it would allow some elderly passengers off a quarantined cruise ship and into government-designated lodging, as the number of new coronavirus cases on the vessel jumped to 218.

Thousands of passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess face several days more of quarantine, with many taking to social media to voice their concerns.

Those working on the ship have been reluctant to speak to reporters for fear of losing their jobs, but two crew members broke their silence in a video broadcast by Indian media Thursday.

"We are scared that if the infection is spreading, it is spreading so fast that we could also become affected," said Sonali Thakkar, a ship security officer.

"We don't want to [become sick]. We just want to go back home," she said in the clip broadcast by NDTV.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Thursday there were 44 new cases - including one crew member - an additional 221 tests.

He said also that some elderly passengers would be allowed off the ship if they test negative for the COVID-19 virus. 

Those who opt to leave will be moved to government facilities to wait out a quarantine that is set to last until February 19.

With dozens of new cases diagnosed almost daily, questions have been raised about the pace of testing and whether the quarantine is working. 

Japan initially tested around 300 people who had close contact with the first infected passenger, or have displayed symptoms, but they have gradually widened the net as new cases were detected. Officials have said they can only process 300 people a day, but hope eventually to expand this to 1,000.


blog comments powered by Disqus