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Coronavirus epidemic worsens on ocean liner near Japan

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The number of reported cases of coronavirus has tripled to 61 on the liner Diamond Princess in quarantine in Japan, announced the authorities on Friday, who will now examine more occupants on board.

The cruise ship, which arrived Monday evening near the port of Yokohama (southwest of Tokyo), has some 3,700 passengers and crew members, 273 of whom have so far been tested.

Of the remaining test results, 41 were positive, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato announced Friday. These new patients will be like the previous hospitalized on Japanese soil, said the minister to the press.

The new cases involve 21 Japanese, as well as Americans, Canadians, Australians, an Argentinian and a British.

The tests were initially limited to people with symptoms or who came into contact with a passenger who had previously disembarked in Hong Kong, who had been found to be carrying the virus.

But the Minister of Health has indicated that additional tests will be carried out on vulnerable subjects on board, such as the elderly, as well as on people who have been in contact with new cases of contamination. No indication of the number of people concerned was given Friday in the middle of the day.

The Diamond Princess docked on Thursday in Yokohama, a suburb of Tokyo, to refuel for a quarantine that could last until February 19.

Twenty people on board had already tested positive on Wednesday and Thursday. They were evacuated from the boat. One of them is in serious condition, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday, without giving details.

– Walks under conditions –

Passengers describe deep boredom on board, they are confined to their cabins, sometimes without windows.

People thus cloistered without natural light were authorized to walk on the bridges in small groups to get some fresh air, but under strict conditions, including the permanent wearing of a mask when they are outside. their cabins.

“The quarantine officials demand that you avoid forming large groups and that you maintain a distance of at least one meter between you when you are chatting,” the boat captain said on Friday morning in an announcement broadcast on the ship.

“We require that you wear at least warm clothing, a hat and a scarf if possible,” he added in this information that could be heard on a video posted by one of the passengers, the Briton David Abel.

A second cruise ship, the Westerdam, with a passenger suspected of being infected, will not be allowed to dock in Okinawa, in the far south of Japan, the government said on Friday.

Apart from the 61 cases of Diamond Princess coronavirus, Japan has recorded 25 on its territory.

Most of these patients had been in contact with people passed through Wuhan, the Chinese city from which the epidemic started, which has already killed more than 600 people in the country, which also has more than 31,000 cases of contamination, according to the latest daily report from the Chinese authorities.

Japan has now repatriated more than 600 of its nationals from the Wuhan region, an evacuation that initially garnered criticism from the government for its too lax approach to quarantine.

A fourth evacuation flight of Japanese nationals, but also of foreign spouses of Japanese or having other links with the country, landed Friday morning in Tokyo.

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