As quarantine nears end, clearing coronavirus-hit ship is daunting task for Japan
Japan Times -- Feb 15
Over the next five days, Japan faces the daunting task of testing thousands of passengers aboard a quarantined cruise ship, evacuating them and transporting those who test positive for the coronavirus — or who may have come in contact with someone who has — to medical facilities on shore.

With the health ministry yet to announce a plan to address these issues or to extend the quarantine, which is scheduled to end Wednesday, the task of getting everyone off the Diamond Princess by the deadline grows increasingly improbable.

The whole situation is like “a game with no end in sight,” said Koji Wada, a professor of public health at the International University of Health and Welfare.

“As the time limit gets closer, the question now is whether it’s possible to send everyone home in time,” he said. “It’s entirely possible that not all passengers will be evacuated by the end of the quarantine period.”

So far, those infected with COVID-19 start to show symptoms anywhere between two and 14 days after contracting the virus. Thus a two-week quarantine was placed upon the cruise ship, which was carrying more than 3,700 passengers and crew, after an 80-year-old man who left the ship in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus.

But if secondary infections are occurring on the ship, as many experts suspect, the 14-day quarantine — which began on Feb. 5 when the Diamond Princess arrived at Yokohama Bay — will prove meaningless.

Still, the health ministry has not officially changed its plan to end the quarantine on Feb. 19 nor explained to the public what strategies it will take to contain the outbreak after the deadline.

News source: Japan Times
Feb 25
Japan's government has drafted a basic policy on the coronavirus in a bid to stem the number of new cases. (NHK)
Feb 25
Twelve new cases of coronavirus infection were reported around Japan on Monday, bringing the total number of domestic infections, excluding people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, to 159. (Japan Times)
Feb 25
For the first time in over 38 years, the Japan Sumo Association’s rankings, published Monday, have only one wrestler at the sport’s second-highest rank of ozeki. But if sekiwake Asanoyama has his way, that situation will soon be remedied. (Japan Times)
Feb 25
Tokyo Metropolitan Police last week arrested a 21-year-old man over the alleged fatal stabbing of his father at their residence in Setagaya Ward, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 22). (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 25
Continued uncertainty surrounding details of a new law on foreign investment is likely to dent appetite toward Japan, experts warned. (Nikkei)
Feb 25
Toyota Motor restarted its fourth and final Chinese assembly plant following a nearly monthlong shutdown sparked by the deadly coronavirus outbreak. (Nikkei)
Feb 24
The U.S. State Department on Saturday called for “increased caution” when traveling to Japan, escalating the alert to level 2 on the four-level advisory scale amid reports that a new coronavirus originating in China is spreading in Japanese communities via unknown infection routes. (Japan Times)
Feb 24
Japan's health ministry says a third passenger from the quarantined Diamond Princess has died. The cause of death was pneumonia. (NHK)
Feb 24
Emperor Naruhito, who turned 60 on Sunday, attended a series of celebratory events at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo the same day, together with his wife, Empress Masako. (Japan Times)
Feb 24
The world-famous Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, featuring the works of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, will be closed from Tuesday through March 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Kyodo)