About 44 people on board a cruise ship moored off the coast of Japan have screened the novel coronavirus positively, said Thursday the country’s health minister.
Advertisement Minister of Health Katsunobu Kato said the 44 new cases were from 221 new tests. In addition to a quarantine officer who has also tested positive for the virus, they raise the number of infections found on the Diamond Princess to 218.
Kato said officials now want to move older people off the ship if they test negative for the virus and offer to put them in government-designated accommodation.
Of the illnesses recently diagnosed, 43 are passengers, and one is a crew member.
The Diamond Princess has been moored off Japan since February 3, after it emerged that the virus now called COVID-19 had been screened positively by a former passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong last month.
Soon thereafter, the ship was placed into quarantine and authorities requested passengers and crew to stay on board until 19 February.
Those who tested positive for the new virus were taken off the ship to medical facilities but questions were raised as to whether the ship’s quarantine is working, with dozens of new cases being diagnosed almost daily.
Passengers are restricted to cabins and are required to wear masks and keep their distance from one another when they are allowed out on open decks for brief periods.