Two Australians are among 10 people who have tested positive to coronavirus on board a cruise ship which is docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama.
- There were about 3,700 passengers and crew on board
- Health officials were testing people who had shown symptoms such as fevers
- Health checks began after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man tested positive for coronavirus
Nearly 4,000 passengers and crew on board the Diamond Princess have been put into mandatory quarantine for two weeks.
In a statement provided to the ABC, the ship’s operator Princess Cruises confirmed there were a total of 223 Australians on the ship.
“The 10 people have been notified and will be taken ashore by Japanese Coast Guard watercraft and transported to local hospitals for care by shoreside Japanese medical professionals,” the statement said.
Three of the 10 confirmed cases are Japanese citizens and all are aged between 50 and 80.
None are in a serious condition.
Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference 273 people on the ship had been tested for the virus so far.
He said the number of confirmed cases could rise as more testing was carried out.
There are 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board the ship.
Of the 273 tested, 120 people had symptoms like fever and cough. The remaining 153 had been in close contact with them.
Australia’s Department of Health said it was working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to “establish the health and wellbeing of Australians on board the ship and ensure they are receiving appropriate medical treatment”.
A passenger who said he was an insulin-dependent diabetic took to social media to air his frustration at being confined to his room.
He said passengers had been told they would be quarantined for 14 days.
The health checks began on Monday evening after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
He was not showing symptoms while on board the boat.
A man on board the cruise said there was an announcement around 8:10am today (local time) that told passengers to wait in their cabins.
“There’s a possibility that we won’t be able to leave the ship for a while,” the man said.
A woman who is on board with her mother in her 80s said she was worried.
“We’re having trouble as we’re out of medicine for my mother’s high blood pressure and we can’t get off,” she told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
“There are many elderly passengers on board and many of them are having similar problems.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen from now.”
The ship visited the Japanese city of Kagoshima, then travelled to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan before returning via the Japanese island of Okinawa.
A health ministry official said not everyone would be tested for coronavirus with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) kits because it was too time-consuming and deemed unnecessary..
Carnival Japan, the local unit of the British-American cruise operator, said on Tuesday the turnaround of the ship had been delayed by about 24 hours.
It was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
Carnival’s Princess Cruises Japan said cruises scheduled to depart from Yokohama and the western Japanese port of Kobe this week would be cancelled because of delays related to the coronavirus checks.
The coronavirus epidemic, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has killed hundreds of people and infected more than 20,000 so far.
The death toll in China stands at 490, the country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday.
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