National / Science & Health

100 cabin mates of Diamond Princess patients disembark for new quarantine in Saitama

Kyodo

Passengers on the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Yokohama who shared cabins with COVID-19-infected people disembarked Saturday for another two weeks of medical observation at a public institution.

About 100 passengers from the quarantined ship are subject to monitoring at the facility north of Tokyo. The ship initially carried 3,700 passengers and crew members from 56 countries and regions when it arrived in Yokohama earlier this month.

The passengers will stay at the National Tax College in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, which previously housed 195 people who evacuated to Japan on a government-chartered aircraft from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the epidemic.

About 970 passengers who tested negative for the pneumonia-causing virus finally left the cruise ship over a three-day period from Wednesday to Friday. Others who were diagnosed with the disease or fell ill have been taken to hospitals.

Although no precise figures were available, about 1,000 crew members and 300 passengers, including people who were waiting for their governments to pick them up and take them back to their home countries on chartered planes, were believed to still be on the ship as of Friday.

So far, 759 foreign nationals who were on the ship have departed Japan on chartered planes.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is also considering taking the crew off the vessel to prevent the virus from spreading further, but to do so it must make arrangements with the ship’s operator.

The quarantine of the cruise ship began around Feb. 3 after it made stops in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan and Okinawa.

More than 600 people on the vessel are infected with the deadly virus, which has rapidly spread from Wuhan across China and beyond.

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