Ten passengers on cruise liner docked in Japan test positive for coronavirus


TOKYO (Reuters) – Ten people onboard a cruise liner docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said on Wednesday, a figure that could rise as medical screening of thousands of patients and crew continued.

Cruise ship Diamond Princess is seen anchored off the Yokohama Port, after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The 10 confirmed cases were among 31 results from 273 people tested so far, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference on Wednesday morning.

There are around 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the Carnival Corp (CCL.N) ship. It was not immediately clear how many people had been screened and how many would undergo testing for the virus.

Health officials were testing people who had shown symptoms such as fevers or those who had been in close contact with such people, public broadcaster NHK reported.

A health ministry official said not everyone would be tested with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) kits because it was too time-consuming and deemed unnecessary.

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.

Photographs and video posted on Twitter by a passenger with the handle @daxa_tw showed masked health workers clad in blue plastic gowns walking down empty corridors on the Diamond Princess as well as views of deserted lounges and a barren deck.

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 on Tuesday that 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 new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases to 33 in Japan. The epidemic, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has killed hundreds of people and infected more than 10,000 so far.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Chris Gallagher; editing by Jane Wardell

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