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Japan quarantines 3,700 on cruise ship over new coronavirus

Japan has quarantined a cruise ship carrying 3,700 passengers and crew members and was testing them for the new coronavirus Tuesday after a passenger who departed in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus.

Television footage showed images of several quarantine officers entering the Diamond Princess cruise ship at the port of Yokohama on Monday evening to check the health of all on board.

The move comes after an 80-year-old passenger who disembarked on Jan. 25 in Hong Kong tested positive for the deadly virus.

Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Monday that Japanese authorities would quarantine the vessel, which arrived at Yokohama Bay a day earlier than originally planned.

A woman in her twenties who was sailing with her mother on the ship told private broadcaster TBS on Tuesday that all passengers “were asked to stay in their rooms to wait for virus tests.”

She said they had been waiting inside their room since Monday and had no word of when they would be tested as of early Tuesday.

After the ship arrived in Yokohama on Monday evening, passengers were told their departure from the area would be delayed from the original schedule of Tuesday evening to Wednesday or later.

The cruise ship has already been quarantined once, on Saturday at a port in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

But a second quarantine was organized after the man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected.

Since Saturday, Japan has been barring foreign nationals who have been to Hubei in recent weeks, as well as holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei. Arrivals displaying symptoms of the new virus can also be denied entry.

A total of eight foreigners have been barred from entering so far, Suga said Monday.

The health ministry said as of Monday that 20 people in Japan have tested positive for the new virus, of whom four showed no symptoms.

Japan has flown more than 500 citizens out of the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Source: Japan Times