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Two passengers with coronavirus die on quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Published on 20/02/20 at 10:02am

Two Japanese passengers on a quarantined cruise ship have died after contracting the coronavirus.

The pair were both in their 80’s and had underlying health conditions. One passenger died directly from the coronavirus while the other died from pneumonia.

Japan’s Health Minister, Katsunobu Kato, said he “believed they received the best possible treatment” as they were taken off the Diamond Princess cruise ship and taken to hospital before their deaths.

The ship was carrying 3,700 people in total, with 621 testing positive for the virus which is the biggest cluster of the virus outside of China. Those who tested negative have begun to leave the ship on Wednesday after a 14 day quarantine.

Britons stranded on the ship will board an evacuation flight on Friday, according to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb. He said: “Details have been sent to those who have registered for the flight. We urge other British nationals still seeking to leave to contact us. We will continue to support British nationals who wish to stay in Japan.”

Those who show no signs of illness will be able to travel but will have to be quarantined on their return to the UK, while ill passengers of the ship will have to stay in Japan for treatment. A British couple who have tested positive for coronavirus on the cruise ship is currently in hospital in Japan.

Japan has faced criticism for its handling of the quarantines. In a now deleted YouTube video, Kentaro Iwata, Professor at the infectious diseases division of Japan’s Kobe University, said the quarantine had been “completely inadequate in terms of infection control.”

He reported that people were eating together and sharing living quarters, passengers moved freely between the infection free zones and infected zones, and there was a failure to wear protective clothing by passengers and medical staff.

US health officials also criticised the Japanese, saying the steps take may “not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship. The rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk.”

Conor Kavanagh

 

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