44 new coronavirus cases confirmed on cruise ship

TOKYO Another 44 people on a quarantined cruise ship docked off the Japanese coast near Tokyo have tested positive for the new coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said Thursday.

Of the newly infected people, 43 were passengers including 29 Japanese nationals, while one was a crew member, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters. That brings the total number of infections discovered on the Diamond Princess to 218.

The vessel, which is still carrying over 3,500 passengers and crew members, has been kept in quarantine at the Yokohama Port until Feb. 19 after an 80 year old man from Hong Kong was found to be infected with the virus on Jan. 25.

Kato also said the government has decided to allow 200 passengers aged 80 and over to disembark the vessel as early as Friday if they test negative for the virus, ahead of the originally targeted date, and to continue their quarantine at government designated facilities.

“There are some people whose health condition may worsen by remaining on the ship for an extended period. We are making every effort for the health of crew members and passengers who stay aboard,” said Kato.

The outbreak of the new disease, known as COVID 19, originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has killed 1,355 people and infected nearly 60,000 in mainland China, Chinese health authorities said Thursday.

Source: Kuwait News Agency