At least 88 more cases have been confirmed of coronavirus on February 18 in the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined off the Japanese coast. According to an international news agency, now the recent announcement by the health ministry has taken the total number of cases in the cruise ship with nearly 3,700 passengers is 542. The Japanese authorities had quarantined the cruise ship in Yokohama on February 4 after a previous passenger was tested positive for deadly coronavirus.
The government had reportedly said earlier that all passengers on the Diamond Princess had been tested for the coronavirus as the countries started repatriating their onboard citizens. Recently, South Korea has also announced that it would evacuate its citizens from the cruise ship in Japan. Meanwhile, the Japanese authorities have faced criticism for its handling of the situation with dozens of new cases being discovered every day since the ship had arrived in early February.
However, the Japanese health minister, Katsunobu Kato had reassured again on February 18 that the passengers who tested negative of the coronavirus, will be allowed to leave the Diamond Princess from February 19. He further told the reporters that the medical officials have “done tests for everyone”. Kato also said that the entire process would last for two or three days. But, some people who were in contact with the people who tested positive will have their quarantine date changed.
According to international reports, the crew on the Diamond Princess is also expected to stay while the authorities observe another quarantine period after the last passengers leave the ship. Till now, the countries which have said that they will evacuate its citizens include the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and now South Korea. South Korea would send a presidential aircraft on February 18 to fly back four nationals and one Japanese spouse.
Reports have also stated that there are currently 14 South Korean aboard the ship but ten have declined to be evacuated from the ship because they live in Japan. The US also brought back more than 300 citizens from the Diamond Ship and according to reports, it also includes over a dozen people who had tested positive for the virus. All citizens who arrived in US from the cruise ship will also undergo a quarantine period of 14 days.
The Canadian government had also said on February 15 that it has chartered a plane to evacuate Canadians on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined off the Japanese coast including 255 Canadians. The official statement further said that the decision was taken because of “extraordinary circumstances faced by passengers” on board the ship and also to “lighten the burden” on the Japanese health-care system.