Ten people quarantined on a cruise liner at the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus, health officials confirmed.
Screening began on Tuesday for some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the anchored vessel after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
The 10 infected people will be transported to a medical facility, Japan Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said, while the the remaining around 3,700 people will remain quarantined on board the Carnival Corp ship for 14 days.
‘I want to take sufficient care of the health of passengers and crew and make every effort to prevent the spread of the virus,’ Kato said at a media briefing.
Everyone on board the Diamond Princess had received initial health screening, Kato said, a process that identified 273 people for testing. Of that smaller group, 31 results had been received so far, revealing the 10 confirmed cases.
Kato said that officials would continue to monitor the remaining passengers and crew for the potential development of symptoms, suggesting that more test samples could be taken.
None of the 10 infected people, three of whom are Japanese nationals, had severe symptoms, public broadcaster NHK reported.
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.
People are transferred from cruise ship Diamond Princess to a patrol ship on Wednesday, after ten people onboard the cruise have tested positive for coronavirus, in Yokohama, Japan
Medical workers in protective suits lead a passenger tested positive for a new coronavirus from the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Yokohama Port
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored off the shore of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Wednesday after ten tested positive for coronavirus
Workers in protective gear are seen at the Japan Coast Guard base in Yokohama on Wednesday bringing patients from the cruise ship
Officers in protective gears carry luggage cases after people who were transferred from cruise ship Diamond Princess, arrive at a maritime police’s base in Yokohama
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.
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 Carnival Corp, 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.
A Briton on board the cruise ship has today accused some of his shipmates of increasing the risk of infection with poor personal hygiene.
David Abel said passengers had ‘no idea’ when the quarantine would end as he and 3,710 others were left in limbo in Yokohama Bay.
Mr Abel said the crew of the Diamond Princess had imposed strict hygiene measures with tourists warned to avoid public toilets – but claimed that some of his fellow passengers ‘don’t give a damn about personal health’.
David Abel (pictured) said passengers had ‘no idea’ when the quarantine would end as he and 3,710 others were left in limbo in Yokohama Bay today
Ambulance workers in protective gears drive an ambulance which is believed to carry a person who was transferred from Cruise ship
‘Nobody is able to book onward flights as we have no idea when the quarantine will clear,’ said Mr Abel, who is travelling with his wife and described himself as a ‘captive’ on the ship.
‘The whole ship is in quarantine, we are in the middle of the bay, anchored, so nobody can get on or off this ship.
‘My guess is we are going to be here throughout the whole of the day and the night.’
Praising the crew, he said staff had imposed stringent hygiene measures under which passengers had to wash their hands in sight of a staff member before eating.
‘Staff are constantly cleaning and sanitizing public areas such as handrails and door handles. Passengers are requested not to use public toilets unless in emergency,’ he said.
However, Mr Abel also accused some of his fellow passengers of increasing the risk of infection with poor personal hygiene.
‘Some of the passengers on board just don’t give a damn about personal health,’ he said.
In one case, an American tourist had blown his nose on a napkin and left it on a dinner table where waiters carrying food were likely to touch it, he said.
It is not yet known exactly how the virus spreads.
Describing the medical tests, Mr Abel said: ‘We’ve had the medical guys come into our stateroom and it’s taken all night, from midnight to 10am, for them to do four of the decks and there are 14 in total.
‘They came in, took our temperature, asked three questions – have we got a cough, have we got a fever, do we take medication to lower temperature.’
The sun rises over the Diamond Princess on Wednesday anchored off the Yokohama Port, south of Tokyo, after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is seen anchored off the Yokohama Port on Tuesday, after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus
Despite the large number of people on the ship, photos from inside show usually-bustling communal areas are all but deserted as those on board are confined to their cabin rooms to prevent any possible spread of the virus.
The only people in sight are personnel going from room-to-room to test the passengers for the virus, or to clean the ship’s public areas.
One image shows a deserted cinema room on the huge liner, called the Diamond Princess, with no one in sight. Another shows the ship’s huge casino standing empty.
Corridors and a huge atrium are left empty save for medical officials wandering around in protective masks.
The usually-lively reception area on board the Diamond Princess is now empty and unmanned.
An empty casino on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in Japan
The once-lively reception area on board the Diamond Princess stands empty and unmanned
Medical personnel are pictured going room-by-room as they check up on the passengers. According to a statement from Japan’s health ministry, the guests’ temperatures and overall conditions are being monitored
One image shows a deserted cinema room on the huge liner, called the Diamond Princess, with no one in sight. Screening began on Tuesday for some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the cruise liner after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
Despite the large number of people on the ship, photos from inside show usually-bustling communal areas are all but deserted as those on board are confined to their cabin rooms to prevent any possible spread of the virus
Images show corridors and a huge atrium left empty save for medical officials wandering around in protective masks
A man in protective clothing walks on the sixth deck of the Diamond Princess today where quarantine specialists are carrying out tests
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the ship had already been quarantined on Saturday at the port of Naha, but the unnamed 80-year-old man’s diagnosis has now forced further checks.
In addition, any passengers who got off in Hong Kong or had close contact with the infected man will be subject to tests for coronavirus.
Until the results are in ‘everyone on board… will stay there’, Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato said.
The 80-year-old patient ‘did not visit a medical centre inside the ship while he was sailing with us’, according to cruise operator Carnival Japan.
‘According to the hospital where he is staying, his condition is stable and infection was not found among his family members who sailed with him,’ they said.
Medics today went deck-to-deck through the Diamond Princess to test for the virus
Japan has already barred foreign nationals who have been to Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
People with passports issued in Hubei are also banned from Japan in a bid to contain the crisis.
Visitors who display symptoms of the new virus when they arrive in Japan can also be denied entry.
A total of 11 foreigners have been barred from entering so far, the immigration service agency said today.
Japan has also flown more than 500 citizens out of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated.
Medical personnel pictured on the eighth deck of the cruise ship as they carry out tests on the passengers on board, who have been instructed to remain in their rooms
A TV crew films the cruise ship Diamond Princess off the port of Yokohama today as health officials carry out medical checks
The disease is believed to have emerged in a market in Wuhan that sold wild animals, spreading rapidly as people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.
The virus has so far spread to more than 20 countries, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.
In addition, Hong Kong today announced that a 39-year-old coronavirus patient had died in hospital – only the second fatality outside mainland China.