Japan quarantines 3,500 on cruise ship after passenger found infected
TOKYO Japan has quarantined a cruise ship carrying 3,500 people and was testing passengers yesterday for the coronavirus first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, after a passenger who departed in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus.
TV footage showed images of quarantine officers entering the Diamond Princess cruise ship at the port of Yokohama on Monday to check the health of all 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The move comes after an 80-year-old passenger who disembarked on Jan 25 in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus.
Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that the Japanese authorities would quarantine the vessel, which arrived at Yokohama Bay a day earlier than originally planned.
A woman in her 20s who was with her mother on the ship told private broadcaster TBS yesterday that all passengers "were asked to stay in their rooms to wait for virus tests". She said they had been waiting in their room since Monday and had no word of when they would be tested as of early yesterday.
After the ship arrived in Yokohama on Monday, passengers were told their departure from the area would be delayed by 24 hours, a passenger told Kyodo News agency.
The ship had already been quarantined once, on Saturday at a port in Naha in Japan's Okinawa prefecture.
But a second quarantine was organised after the man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected.
Since Saturday, Japan has been barring foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province in recent weeks, as well as holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei. Arrivals displaying symptoms of the new virus can also be denied entry.
Eight foreigners have been barred from entering so far, Mr Suga said on Monday.
The Health Ministry said as of Monday, 20 people in Japan have tested positive for the virus. Four showed no symptoms. Japan has flown more than 500 citizens out of Wuhan. - AFP