Coronavirus: Another 41 catch virus on quarantined cruise ship


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Media captionDavid Abel, one of 3,700 people in quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess, speaking earlier this week

Another 41 people on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus – bringing the total to 61.

Some 3,700 people are on board the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined in Yokohama for at least two weeks.

The checks began after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who had been on the ship last month fell ill with the virus.

He boarded the cruise ship in Yokohama on 20 January and disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January.

A separate cruise ship – the World Dream – has been quarantined in Hong Kong after eight former passengers caught the virus.

It has around 3,600 people on board, but none have tested positive so far.

The new cases on the Diamond Princess bring Japan’s number of confirmed cases to 86, the second highest figure after China.

“The results of the remaining 171 tests came out and 41 tested positive,” Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said.

“Today they will be sent to hospitals in several prefectures, and we are now preparing for that.”

There’s also been concern over supplies of normal medicine to the ship. One passenger has been waving a Japanese flag with a message “shortage of medicine”.

A Japanese TV crew on the shore responded with a banner asking: “What medicine?”

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Image caption

A passengers with a sign saying “shortage of medicine” onboard the Dream Princess

Twenty passengers diagnosed earlier have already been taken to hospitals.

The 61 confirmed patients are from:

  • Japan: 28 people
  • US: 11
  • Australia, Canada: 7
  • China: 3
  • UK, New Zealand, Taiwan, Philippines, Argentina: 1

Passengers were told earlier this week they’d have to be quarantined for 14 days, and would be confined to their cabins.

People on board now say they are allowed to leave the cabin for some fresh air on deck.

Passengers have also been given thermometers to monitor their temperatures, passenger David Abel from the UK said on Facebook.

He earlier told the BBC: “Having enjoyed a wonderful cruise, when we arrived in Okinawa, we had to go through a quarantine procedure and since then it has been really downhill.”

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Media captionThe BBC’s online health editor on what we know about the virus

The new coronavirus can cause severe acute respiratory infection, which in some cases can be fatal. Most people infected are likely to recover though.

The centre of the virus is in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and most cases have been in the city and the surrounding province of Hubei.

New figures show the virus has killed 636 people and infected 31,161 in mainland China, the country’s National Health Commission’s said.

It has spread overseas with confirmed infections in at least 25 nations.

So far, there have been only two deaths outside of mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

Due to the global spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency.


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