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Japan quarantines 3,700 on cruise ship after positive coronavirus test

Health screening begin aboard quarantined Japanese cruise ship after positive coronavirus case
WATCH: Health screening began on Tuesday for some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard a cruise liner held in quarantine at the Japanese port of Yokohama.

Japanese authorities have quarantined some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard a cruise ship in Yokohama after one individual — who is no longer on the ship — tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Carnival Japan Inc.’s Diamond Princess cruise ship was put into lockdown on Tuesday, leaving thousands stranded aboard the ship in the port city of Yokohama.

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Carnival Japan says the infected passenger was an 80-year-old man from Hong Kong. He boarded the Diamond Princess in Yokohama on Jan. 20 and disembarked in Hong Kong on Jan. 25, the company said.

The ship’s captain told passengers on Monday that the 80-year-old patient is recovering, the Associated Press reports.

Light boats travel before the Diamond Princess cruise ship, anchored in quarantine off the port of Yokohama in Japan, Feb. 4, 2020.
Light boats travel before the Diamond Princess cruise ship, anchored in quarantine off the port of Yokohama in Japan, Feb. 4, 2020. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON

Passenger and Twitter user @daxa_tw has posted several photos and videos of health-care workers testing people on the otherwise locked-down ship on Monday and Tuesday, Reuters reports. One video shows the cruise ship’s glamorous atrium looking almost deserted.

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Passengers were told to remain in their cabins. Health officials also handed out questionnaires and checked temperatures among the passengers and crew. Approximately 70 per cent of the passengers had been checked by Tuesday night, and partial operations were back underway.

The cruise ship’s voyage has been delayed while officials wait for the results of the tests.

Test results have not been released, but tensions remain high in the region as China’s neighbours try to prevent the viral outbreak from spreading into their countries.

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At least 425 people have died and 20,438 cases have been confirmed in China since the outbreak started in the city of Wuhan late last year, Chinese officials said on Tuesday.

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Several countries near China and around the world, including Canada, have confirmed cases of the disease. Japan has reported 20 cases to date, including 17 cases in people who had been to Wuhan.

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A cruise ship in Italy was locked down last week amid fears that a sick Chinese woman and her husband might have the virus. Approximately 6,000 passengers were held on the ship for several hours until the tests came back negative.

READ MORE: No coronavirus found after hours-long quarantine on cruise ship in Italy

Taiwan announced on Tuesday that it will ban all cruise ships from stopping on the island if they’ve been to China, Hong Kong or Macau within the last two weeks.

Royal Caribbean Cruises announced on Tuesday that it’s cancelling eight trips out of China through March 4. The company has also warned that more cancellations could be in store if the outbreak continues.

With files from Reuters and the Associated Press