A further 39 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the Japan coast have tested positive for the new coronavirus, authorities said Wednesday (Feb 12), as thousands more steel themselves for a second week in quarantine.
The ship that originally had over 3,700 passengers and crew on board has become the largest single cluster of the newly named COVID-19 disease outside its origin in China, where it has killed more than 1,100 people.
“Out of 53 new test results, 39 people were found positive,” Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters, bringing the total of cases on board to 174. In addition, a quarantine officer was also found to be infected with the virus.
Kato added that: “At this point, we have confirmed that four people among those who are hospitalised are in a serious condition, either on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit.”
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.
Those who remain on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins and allowed only briefly onto open decks — as long as they wear face masks.
Passengers have also been asked to keep a distance from each other when outside, and given thermometers to regularly monitor their temperatures.
When the boat arrived off Japan, authorities initially tested nearly 300 people of the 3,711 aboard for the virus, gradually evacuating dozens who were infected to local medical facilities.
In recent days, testing has expanded and so far 492 people have been tested, mostly those showing symptoms or who have had close contact with a confirmed positive case.
“Currently we have the capacity to conduct up to 300 tests per day, but we are working… so that by the last day of the incubation period, Feb 18, we will be able to test up to 1,000,” government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a regular briefing.
- Source: News websites