Taiwan on Tuesday said that it will send a plane to evacuate its citizens stuck in the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently anchored off the coast of Japan's Yokohama port. According to reports, Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung has said that four Taiwanese citizens on the ship have tested positive for the virus. Minister Chen while talking to the media said that the government is still discussing the details and timing of the evacuation process with Japanese officials.
As per reports, a total of 542 people have been infected by the disease out of the 3,000 currently present on board of the vessel, including the 88 people who tested positive recently. According to Taiwan's Health Ministry, there are currently 20 citizens from Taiwan present on board the quarantined ship. The Diamond Princess ship has seen the most number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported outside China. Media reports suggest that Australia, Canada, Italy, the UK, and South Korea are also planning to take their citizens off the ship. The United States had already evacuated its citizens from the ship despite facing criticism from its own people.
According to media reports, the new coronavirus has infected more than 71,000 people in China since it first broke out in December last year. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) had earlier said that the virus has already spread to 27 countries, including as far as western Europe. As per reports, the coronavirus originated from a seafood market in China's Wuhan city, the believed epicentre of the disease. Media reports also stated that animals were being traded illegally in the market from where the disease originated.
The coronavirus has claimed more lives than its predecessor Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). According to reports, SARS, which broke out in China in 2002-2003 had claimed more than 774 lives, which is way below the current death toll from COVID-19. According to reports, China on February 13 reported the highest number of deaths caused by the virus in a single day as 254 people died in Hubei province.