Ten people quarantined on a cruise liner at the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus, health officials confirmed.
Screening began on Tuesday for some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the anchored vessel after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
The 10 infected people will be transported to a medical facility, Japan Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said, while the the remaining thousands will be quarantined on board the Carnival Corp ship for 14 days.
‘I want to take sufficient care of the health of passengers and crew and make every effort to prevent the spread of the virus,’ Kato said at a media briefing.
Everyone on board the Diamond Princess had received initial health screening, Kato said, a process that identified 273 people for testing. Of that smaller group, 31 results had been received so far, revealing the 10 confirmed cases.
A Briton, David Abel, who is on board with his wife Sally, both from Oxfordshire, has described the strict quarantine measures on the vessel.
‘We are now officially in quarantine. It appears that our quarantine is on board the ship, that we will not be taken off to a hospital.’ Mr Abel said in a Facebook video.
‘The 10 people that are affected, they are being taken off very soon by the local coastguard into a medical facility. We are to remain on board the ship and we are confined to our cabins.’
Describing the medical tests, Mr Abel said: ‘We’ve had the medical guys come into our stateroom and it’s taken all night, from midnight to 10am, for them to do four of the decks and there are 14 in total.
‘They came in, took our temperature, asked three questions – have we got a cough, have we got a fever, do we take medication to lower temperature.’
Despite the large number of people on the ship, photos from inside show usually-bustling communal areas are all but deserted as those on board are confined to their cabin rooms to prevent any possible spread of the virus.
The only people in sight are personnel going from room-to-room to test the passengers for the virus, or to clean the ship’s public areas.
One image shows a deserted cinema room on the huge liner, called the Diamond Princess, with no one in sight. Another shows the ship’s huge casino standing empty.
Corridors and a huge atrium are left empty save for medical officials wandering around in protective masks.
The usually-lively reception area on board the Diamond Princess is now empty and unmanned.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the ship had already been quarantined on Saturday at the port of Naha, but the unnamed 80-year-old man’s diagnosis has now forced further checks.
In addition, any passengers who got off in Hong Kong or had close contact with the infected man will be subject to tests for coronavirus.
Until the results are in ‘everyone on board… will stay there’, Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato said.
The 80-year-old patient ‘did not visit a medical centre inside the ship while he was sailing with us’, according to cruise operator Carnival Japan.
‘According to the hospital where he is staying, his condition is stable and infection was not found among his family members who sailed with him,’ they said.
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