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Japan to let elderly leave cruise ship Diamond Princess

Christian Fernsby |
Japan will allow some elderly passengers on a quarantined cruise liner who test negative for the new coronavirus to disembark ahead of schedule, the health minister said today, as another 44 new cases were confirmed aboard the Diamond Princess.

Topics: JAPAN    CRUISE    SHIP    DIAMOND PRINCESS   

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said elderly passengers who have pre-existing conditions or are in windowless rooms would be allowed to leave starting from Friday, rather than the originally targeted date of Feb. 19, and complete their quarantine ashore.

With the number of those infected on the cruise ship now up to 218 plus one quarantine officer, concerns have been raised about conditions on the ship, where about 3,500 people remain on board.

The liner was quarantined on arrival in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Feb. 3 after a man who disembarked from the liner in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus that has now killed more than 1,350 in mainland China.

About 80% of the ship passengers were aged 60 or over, with 215 in their 80s and 11 in their 90s, according to Japanese media. The ship typically has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.

“We will make every effort to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the people,” Kato told a televised news conference, without confirming the number of passengers who may leave ahead of schedule.

The minister said those who fit the criteria and wished to disembark would be housed in unspecified facilities provided by the Japanese government.

Those who had been in close contact with persons who tested positive would not be allowed to leave the ship, he said.


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