Residents of virus-hit city accuse government of withholding information and downplaying severity of viral outbreak.
Ten people on a cruise ship moored in Japan‘s port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus, authorities in Tokyo announced on Wednesday, a figure that could rise as more results come in from the 3,700 passengers and crew.
The 10 infected people will be transported to a medical facility, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said, while the rest of the about 3,700 people will remain quarantined on board the Diamond Princess 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 ship 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. Two of the patients who tested positive are reportedly from Australia.
Kato said 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 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 and 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.
The company 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.
Meanwhile, a cruise ship that was denied entry in Taiwan docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with all passengers and crew undergoing health checks.
Hong Kong health department officials said that 30 members of the ship, which was carrying 1,800 people, are showing some symptoms including fever.
Officials said none of the passengers in the ship came in contact with three mainland Chinese with coronavirus, who were onboard the ship from January 19 to 24.
The outbreak, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has killed 490 people and infected more than 24,000 as of Wednesday, February 5.