Coronavirus: Two cruise ship passengers die in Japan after contracting virus

Japanese couple in their 80s died in hospital after being taken off Diamond Princess

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 20 February 2020 08:20
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Eight patients who tested positive for coronavirus released from hospital

Two people have died after contracting coronavirus on board a cruise ship quarantined in Japan.

The Japanese couple, who were in their 80s, died in hospital after being taken off the Diamond Princess last week.

They both had underlying health conditions and one died from the Covid-19 virus, while the other died from pneumonia, according to local reports.

It raises Japan’s death toll from the virus to three.

Two Japanese government officials have also tested positive for the illness after working on the ship, a health ministry official told a news conference.

One worked for the health ministry and the other for the cabinet secretariat.

Three other officials, from the health ministry and quarantine office, had previously tested positive for the virus.

There have been 621 cases of the virus on the Diamond Princess, which originally had 3,711 passengers on board.

The ship, docked in Yokohama port, near Tokyo, began letting passengers who tested negative for the virus off the ship Wednesday, when the government-set 14-day quarantine ended.

On Thursday, hundreds of other passengers were also expected to leave in a massive disembarkation process expected to last throughout Friday.

Test results are still pending for some people on board.

Before the quarantine on the ship had ended, the United States evacuated more than 300 Americans and put them in quarantine in the US for another 14 days.

South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong evacuated their residents for quarantines as well, and Canada and Italy sent flights for their citizens as well.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the 74 British passengers on board the ship would be evacuated via a flight from Tokyo on Friday and quarantined for another 14 days upon arrival in the UK.

He urged any other Britons wanting to leave Japan to get in touch.

Japan’s government has been questioned over its decision to keep people on the ship, which some experts have called a perfect virus incubator.

The coronavirus, which initially emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, has now killed more than 2,110 people and infected more than 75,000 people in mainland China.

The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in China, and more specifically Hubei province, but the virus has spread to more than 1,000 people across the globe.

Additional reporting by agencies

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