Another 88 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan, which means the vessel now has the largest concentration of cases outside of mainland China at 542.
The toll of cases has been mounting, even with the two-week quarantine period ending today, with 88 more confirmed Tuesday and 99 confirmed Monday.
However, passengers will only be able to leave the ship if they test negative for the virus.
The ministry also said 19 of the infected people are in serious condition, with some of them being treated in intensive care units.
The new cases come in a significant week for the 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the Princess ship – 228 of them Australian. The 14-day quarantine was due to end Wednesday, and Japanese health officials say they still have plans to test everyone on Tuesday. Staggered departures would take place for those who test negative from Wednesday.
Another twist in the sorry saga of how the exhausted passengers have had to live since they arrived in the port of Yokohama on February 3rd.
The 400 American passengers quarantined aboard have boarded their flight home Monday morning where they will have to serve another 14 days in quarantine before they will be allowed to restart their lives.
Here's the Departure of the Americans pic.twitter.com/ndWXkTCG7O
— Matthew Smith (@mjswhitebread) February 16, 2020
A similar plan is imminent from the Australian government. Scott Morrison has ruled out using Christmas Island to quarantine elderly Australians after they are evacuated from the coronavirus-struck Diamond Princess cruise ship, The Australian reported.
“There’s quite specific needs we wouldn’t be able to accommodate at Christmas Island for the more elderly group of people,” he said in Melbourne on Monday. “That’s not an option we’re considering for this operation. And we don’t have any other operations envisaged at this time.”
Darwin is now the more likely quarantine site when Australian passengers arrive home.
‘Today we have a senior medical officer, Dr Paul Armstrong, who’s boarding the ship with international authorities, obviously in a heavy quarantine and health situation,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Channel 7 Sunrise.
“He’ll report back to the National Security Committee today and if his advice is that there has been in any way a secondary round of infections, and obviously the presumption is that’s the case, then we’re looking to work with Qantas to bring these people home.”
“But we’re working with the Japanese authorities, working with Qantas, working with the health authorities in planning to bring all of those Australians home who need it.”
“…It’s likely that as the Americans have done, (Australian passengers) may need to be in a quarantine situation, but more advice coming today, decisions today and announcements today.”
“I’m angry our government has not done anything useful,” she said via text message on Sunday. “Mood onboard are [sic] people are frightened of the unknown”.
American passengers onboard
According to CNN, American passengers are bewildered and angry. Some believe the move just adds to the time they have had to spend in virtual isolation, the innocent victims of a virus as yet still misunderstood.
Find out how to pick the best cabin in Cruise Passenger’s world-first Video Cruise Guide
We’ve made choosing your next cruise easy with a guide that cuts through the complications and tells you what lines are offering, where they can take you and what’s on board.