Thousands of people face spending the next fortnight stuck on a luxury cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama, after initial results showed 10 passengers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Diamond Princess, with more than 3,700 passengers and crew onboard, had been prevented from sailing on Monday after an 80-year-old passenger who had travelled on the vessel late last month tested positive after he arrived home in Hong Kong.
Of a further 273 people on board who have since been tested following health screenings, 31 results had come back – and of those 10 were positive, according to Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato. It is not clear if more tests will be carried out. None of the 10 infected people – three each from Japan and Hong Kong, two Australians, one American and one Filipino crew member – had severe symptoms, public broadcaster NHK said.
Also on Wednesday, health checks began on 1,800 passengers and crew on a second cruise ship docked in Hong Kong, after 30 staff members reported symptoms including fever, according to Reuters.
Hong Kong’s health department said that 90% of the passengers were Hong Kongers and no mainland Chinese were on board. Previously, three mainland Chinese that had been on the ship between 19 and 24 January, and were found to have contracted the virus. No passengers have been able to leave the World Dream ship, operated by Dream Cruises, without permission.
David Abel, a British passenger who has been on the Diamond Princess for more than two weeks, said that people had been instructed not to leave their cabins. “All the passengers aboard this ship, we remain confined to our cabins,” Abel, who is on the ship with his wife, Sally, said in a Facebook video on Wednesday afternoon. “We can’t even open the door and walk down the corridor. Confinement to cabins really is what it is.”
Abel, from from Woodford Halse in Oxfordshire said he felt sorry for two women the couple had befriended who are smokers. Japanese health authorities have banned smoking on the ship, including inside cabins and on balconies. “Thank god my wife and I gave up smoking 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.
Source: The Guardian