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20 virus infections on cruise ship in Japan; passengers confined to cabins

20 virus infections on cruise ship in Japan; passengers confined to cabins
Cruise ship Diamond Princess, where 10 people on the ship had tested positive for coronavirus yesterday, approaches Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Ten more people on a quarantined cruise liner in a Japanese port have tested positive for coronavirus, officials said on Thursday, taking the number of infected passengers to 20 with test results on more than 170 still pending.

About 3,700 people are facing at least two weeks quarantine on the Diamond Princess ship in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, after 10 people were initially confirmed with the virus and moved to medical facilities.

The total number of coronavirus patients in Japan is now 45. Test results on around 171 people from the cruise ship are still pending. The 10 new cases included four Japanese, two Americans, two Canadians, one person from New Zealand and one from Taiwan.

Carnival's Diamond Princess was caught up in the global coronavirus epidemic after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man tested positive for the virus after disembarking late last month. The ship arrived in Yokohama on Monday after a 14-day round trip.

Clyde and Renee Smith, a US couple who are both 80 and on the cruise with two adult grandsons, said they were on a bus trip with the man in Kagoshima, southern Japan, but both tested negative for the virus.

They were enduring their second day in a stateroom that, as Renee told Reuters by phone from the ship, "is tiny, we don't have a window, there are four of us - and only one chair."

They've spent time reading and watching movies, including Crazy Rich Asians and Aquaman. Grandson Sawyer Smith, 25, a workout devotee, does crunches since he can't visit the gym.

"It's not really to the point where we're getting stir-crazy, if they keep us in the rooms for four to five days it might be a little different," Sawyer said.

Others, though, were starting to feel confined.

One 43-year-old Hong Kong resident, also in a windowless room, said they had received food, toilet paper and games and art supplies for their child.

But it was sunlight they wanted, he said.

"Wondering though when we can step outside the room, if at all, for sunlight," the man, who declined to be named, told Reuters, adding he hadn't been in direct sunlight since Tuesday.

"I got a peek of it when the opposite room opened their door to receive breakfast, as that room has a balcony. The sky looked blue."


Other passengers said food delivery to the rooms was slow.

"Of course, our greatest worry is that we have been infected," said Gay Courter, a 75-year-old US novelist.


"We are hopeful that the US government will be sending transport for the Americans on board it's better for us to travel while healthy and also if we get sick to be treated in American hospitals."

Concern has also spread to ports the ship visited along the way, including Naha on Japan's tropical Okinawa island and Taipei in Taiwan, where passengers went on day trips.

A health official in Naha said they were trying to trace the path of the infected passengers, while Taipei's National Palace Museum disinfected its exhibition rooms and Taiwan banned all cruise ships from making port.

Japan is making arrangements to send a fourth chartered plane to Wuhan to pick up around 200 people on Thursday night, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. These are likely to include Chinese spouses as well as Japanese.

The virus death toll in mainland China hit 563 on Thursday, with almost 3,000 new cases reported.

China's National Health Commission said another 3,694 coronavirus cases were reported throughout the country on Feb 5, bringing the total to 28,018.

Nearly 260 cases have been reported in 31 other countries and regions outside mainland China, according to a Reuters tally based on official statements from the authorities involved.

For the latest updates on the Wuhan virus, visit here.

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