The cases of novel coronavirus on a confined ship off Japan’s coast has increased to 355, the country’s health minister said on Sunday.
The new figures of the people tested positive for coronavirus came as the United States was planning to evacuate some of its citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess.
Hong Kong also announced to evacuate its 330 citizens from the cruise. Canada, too, has planned to repatriate its citizens trapped on the ship.
“So far, we have conducted tests for 1,219 individuals. Of those, 355 people tested positive,” health minister Katsunobu Kato told a roundtable discussion on Japan’s national broadcasting organization NHK.
Japan’s efforts to control the coronavirus on the vessel have prompted international concern.
Diamond Princess reached off the Japanese coast in early February with above 3,700 passengers and crew members from more than 50 countries.
The cruise ship was put under quarantine after coronavirus case was found on a passenger who got off the boat in Hong Kong during its voyage tested positive for the virus.
Officials kept finding new cases of the deadly virus among the passengers and crew members and transporting them to Japanese hospitals, while others in the cruise have been told to stay inside their individual cabins during the 14-day quarantine period due to end on Wednesday.
Due to limited supplies of coronavirus testing kits, facilities and manpower, Japan has not been able to test all those on board.
“Based on the high number of COVID-19 cases identified onboard the Diamond Princess, the Department of Health and Human Services made an assessment that passengers and crew members on board are at high risk of exposure,” the US embassy said in a letter to its passengers.
The US, Canada and Hong Kong said those repatriated will go through another two-week quarantine period at home.
The captain of the cruise ship has told passengers that the Japanese government might start testing them for the coronavirus from Tuesday, and those who are not tested positive would be allowed to get off the ship from Friday.