A Japanese Self-Defense Forces Health Corps vehicle approaches the Diamond Princess in Yokohama. (Photo: AFP)
A total of 64 people on board a cruise ship have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus - while another ship remains in precautionary quarantine despite no positive cases being discovered yet.
The Diamond Princess is quarantined at Yokohama in Japan for at least two weeks, following a positive diagnosis for a former passenger. Authorities tested 273 passengers and staff who had either shown symptoms or been in contact with a known case, and so far 64 have tested positive.
The infected passengers include nationals from Japan, the US, Australia, Canada, Argentina and the UK. All 64 have been evacuated to hospitals on land. The Japanese health ministry is planning to expand testing to cover older passengers and those with pre-existing conditions.
In all there are 56 nationalities on the Diamond Princess, but the only European national diagnosed on board was Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, who was on honeymoon. His new wife Wendy Marshall Steele said he was feeling well and in good spirits. "We are constantly in touch," she said. "Japanese doctors are excellent and he is in safe hands."
While her husband recuperates, Marshall Steele remains on board and confined to her room on the ship. The Diamond Princess has around 2,600 passengers and 1,000 crew, including 78 British passport holders. All have been confined to their rooms to reduce the communicability of the outbreak.
The checks began after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man, who had been on the Diamond Princess last month, fell ill with the coronavirus. He had boarded the ship in Yokohama on 20 January and disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January.
Second cruise ship quarantined off Hong Kong
Another cruise ship remains quarantined in Hong Kong despite 44 suspected coronavirus cases testing negative. The World Dream had been sealed off after eight former passengers were diagnosed with the virus and others on board displayed symptoms.
"There were 35 crew members and nine passengers that showed signs of a fever or symptoms of respiratory tract infection," Chief Port Health Officer of Hong Kong's Health Department Leung Yiu-Hong told reporters at a news conference. "Tests that we did all showed signs of no coronavirus."
The officer added that all staff on board will be tested and passengers will remain on board until the results are known. Hong Kong has suspended its two cruise terminals.