Coronavirus: 2 cruise passengers die

NHK -- Feb 21

Two passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship docked near Tokyo have died. They had been hospitalized after showing symptoms and tested positive for the new coronavirus last week.

This comes as passengers continue to disembark following a two week quarantine period.

Both of the patients who died were Japanese. One was an 87-year-old man who had bronchial asthma. The other was an 84-year-old woman. She didn't have any pre-existing conditions.

During a news conference, a health ministry official was asked whether keeping elderly passengers on the cruise ship increased their risk of getting infected.

Masami Sakoi said, " We believe we handled the situation appropriately .We transferred the two passengers to hospitals as soon as we learned they had a fever. That was before we even had their test results."

The death toll of people infected with the virus in Japan now stands at three.

Hundreds of passengers left the cruise ship on Thursday after testing negative for the virus.

A woman in her 60s said, "I'm still worried about getting infected so I will continue wearing a mask and using disinfectant."

A man in his 70s said, "I got information through email and from talking to my kids. But I didn't get any updates from the Japanese government."

More than 1,000 people now remain on board many of whom are crewmembers.

The ship is the largest hot spot for coronavirus infections outside China.

621 people have been confirmed to be infected. On Thursday, two government staffers in their 30s and 40s who were working on the ship tested positive.

Anyone who shared a cabin with an infected passenger will stay on the ship for further quarantine.

At the same time, some governments are flying their citizens home.

Planes sent by Italy and Canada are standing by at Tokyo's Haneda Airport to bring back Diamond Princess passengers. The UK and Taiwan plan to take similar steps.