Japan cruise ship virus cases jump to 175 including quarantine officer

A man wearing a mask stands guard at the port next to the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 12, 2020. — Reuters pic
A man wearing a mask stands guard at the port next to the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 12, 2020. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Feb 12 — Another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan as well as one quarantine officer, bringing the total to 175, the health ministry said today.

The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.

About 3,700 people are aboard the ship, which usually has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.

The ministry said tests are being conducted for others who are deemed to need them and it will announce the results later.

The UK-flagged Diamond Princess is managed by Princess Cruise Lines, one of the world's largest cruise lines and a unit of Carnival Corp.

The government was considering allowing elderly and those with chronic illnesses to disembark before the February 19 target date for ending the quarantine, some media reported, but added it would take time to figure out where they could be sent.

As of last week, about 80 per cent of the passengers were aged 60 or over, with 215 in their 80s and 11 in the 90s, the English-language Japan Times newspaper reported.

Kyodo news agency, citing the health ministry, said that of the 39 cases, 10 were crew, 10 were Japanese nationals and the others were from 11 countries including the United States and China. Four were in serious condition, media said, quoting Health Minister Katsunobu Kato. — Reuters

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