Diamond Princess Cruise with about 3,700 passengers and crew depart from Hong Kong on January 25 with the original schedule extending until February 4. However, when it arrived at the Japanese port of Yokohama , the ship was isolated from the risk of coronavirus infection on the mainland.
On January 30, Hong Kong authorities announced a man who had been on board tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus. Japan from February 3 for isolation and physical examination for all passengers and crew on board.
Initially Japanese officials only allowed testing of cases of infection symptoms. After public opinion expressed concern, the test was expanded and continuous new cases were discovered, making observers worried yachts became an outbreak.
By February 13, the number of positive cases on board had reached 218 patients. Of the 44 newly announced cases, 29 were Japanese nationals and 15 were foreign nationals. Nearly half of the people present on the yacht are Japanese nationals, including tourists and boat personnel.
The family of a Japanese passenger came to Yokohama port to encourage. They were separated by a steel fence and barbed wire, forced to call in and wave to them from afar.
The majority of cases on board are elderly people, with 40 cases out of 44 new cases being over 70 years old. What worries experts is that nearly 80 percent of passengers on board are over 60, with 215 people over 80 and 11 people over 90, according to the Japan Times.
People who have tested positive for coronavirus have been brought to shore for isolation treatment at many local health facilities. However, experts suspect yacht isolation is ineffective and the reason the number of infections continues to rise.
Among recent infections, there was a Japanese medical staff who was involved in the isolation of patients on board. This case makes Japanese officials more worried because employees always wear gloves, masks, protective masks and often wash hand sanitizer when collecting passenger information.
Although the yacht operator has put stringent measures in its efforts to control the disease, many experts fear the pathogens are rapidly catching up in the deep quarters of the ship. Stanley Deresinski, an infectious disease expert at Stanford University ( USA ), evaluated that isolation measures to prevent pathogens from coming on land were not effective on ships.
The Japanese Ministry of Health is planning to evacuate the elderly from Diamond Princess yacht if they test negative for the virus. Authorities are expected to place them in state-run accommodation facilities. About 200 first passengers are being prepared to evacuate on February 14.
Japanese officials and the ship’s executive board continue to ask the rest of the passengers not to leave the room, wear masks, limit contact and keep distance from each other. Staff of the ship is instructed to limit direct contact with passengers, to keep supplies in front of the door. The 5-star cruise ship, once a dream destination for many, has become the largest outbreak outside of China.
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