Nearly 3,700 people aboard the Diamond Princess luxury cruise ship are stuck in quarantine off the Tokyo Bay, and 65 new coronavirus cases from the ship were confirmed Monday.
Crew members and passengers, some with medical conditions, still have another week left in quarantine.
The quarantine began last week when the ship docked in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, and officials were briefed that a passenger who had disembarked in Hong Kong had tested positive for a new strain of coronavirus. The quarantine is currently scheduled to end Feb. 19.
A total of 135 people from the Diamond Princess have now been diagnosed with coronavirus, Japanese health officials said Monday, making the cruise ship the largest concentrated area of coronavirus cases outside of China. Those who test positive for coronavirus, which presents with flu-like symptoms, are promptly removed from the cruise ship using special sanitation measures, and transferred to local Japanese hospitals, according to NPR.
New cases are being announced among passengers and crew almost daily, according to the New York Times, and testing so far has been limited to only a few hundred passengers who are already showing symptoms — to the frustration of some on board. In the meantime, passengers are largely being confined to their tiny cabins, with brief chances to go outside for fresh air in shifts, according to NBC News. Passengers told Reuters they’re passing time with movies, origami, and broadcasts of magic shows.
Crew members, meanwhile, are continuing to deliver food and accommodations to the passengers, although some have made panicked pleas to their home governments to get them off the ship over fears that they may become sick.
Several crew members have tested positive for the novel strain of coronavirus since the quarantine was imposed last week. The pneumonia-like illness first surfaced in Wuhan, China in late December, and has since killed more than 900 people and sickened at least 40,171.
The worst of the outbreak is still largely based in the Hubei province of China, but cases have been reported in several Asian countries and the U.S. over the past few weeks. The Diamond Princess, meanwhile, left Yokohama on Jan. 20 — when there were fewer than 5,000 cases of coronavirus globally — and returned last week after visiting Kagoshima, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Okinawa.
The U.S.-based company that runs the Diamond Princess, Princess Cruise Lines, will refund passengers for the costs of the cruise, air travel, and hotels.
Some passengers also told the New York Times they have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, and require medications. At least 1,850 passengers have requested additional drugs, and the Japanese government has supplied around 750 of them, according to the Japan Times. Some people have been taken off the ship so they can be treated for unrelated medical conditions.
Cover: The quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchors at the Yokohama Port, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japanâ€™s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)