Two elderly cruise ship passengers with coronavirus who were on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess have died, according to Japan’s health ministry, the Associated Press has confirmed.
A health ministry official confirmed that they had been previously hospitalized in serious condition and had existing chronic diseases. The official spoke anonymously, citing office protocol.
Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which has built a map of coronavirus data including cases, fatalities and recoveries, also cites two deaths from the Diamond Princess, which brings the total death toll from the virus in Japan to three. Per the data, 621 cases of the virus had been identified among the 3,711 quarantined passengers and crew, making the ship the site of the most infections outside of China; one Diamond Princess passenger has recovered.
According to Japanese broadcast outlet, NHK, the two Japanese cruise passengers who died from the virus were an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman.
The two passengers were taken to the hospital on Feb. 11 and 12, respectively, and each tested positive the day after they were admitted, Health Ministry official Masami Sakoi said. They are believed to have been infected before the ship was officially placed under quarantine on Feb. 5.
It was not immediately known why they were not tested earlier when they developed initial symptoms and consulted with the ship’s clinic, said Sakoi.
The Japanese Health Ministry also revealed Thursday that two more government officials became infected while lending clerical support to the quarantine effort on the Diamond Princess.
Four others associated with the quarantine – an official, a paramedic who carried an infected passenger, a Health Ministry worker and an emergency relief medical expert – have also been sickened.
The two deaths were the first on record of any of the people who tested positive on board. Those on board who tested positive over the course of the quarantine were taken off the ship and brought to hospitals for further evaluation and treatment.
Their deaths bring the Japanese count to three.
The Diamond Princess quarantine was ending
Passengers began to return to land Wednesday after a two-week quarantine due to coronavirus on the Diamond Princess ship, which remains docked in Yokohama, Japan.
Approximately 600 guests disembarked on Wednesday and another several hundred guests were expected to be cleared to disembark on Thursday, according to a statement from Princess Cruises shared by Negin Kamali, director of public relations.
Matt Smith, a passenger who has kept in touch with USA TODAY throughout the quarantine, was on solid ground around 1:20 p.m. local time Thursday. He and his wife, Katherine Codekas, had not yet heard of any passenger fatalities as a result of coronavirus.
The couple received their negative test results the night before on a form slipped into their state room, according to a tweet from Smith.
Although the ship’s quarantine period was scheduled to end Wednesday, more than 100 American passengers on board will have to wait another two weeks to return home.
While 328 Americans had already evacuated the ship and are in quarantine in the U.S. – including 14 who tested positive for the virus – some Americans on board, including Smith, chose to finish their quarantine on the ship.
PHOTOS: Passengers disembark from coronavirus-quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship
South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong evacuated their residents for quarantines, as well, and Canada and Italy also sent flights for their citizens.
According to a letter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to American passengers who chose to remain on the ship, they must remain symptom-free and not have any positive tests for an additional 14 days before they can re-enter the U.S.
Smith and Codekas plan to spend that time exploring Tokyo and perhaps will take day trips to the surrounding area.
Japan’s government has been questioned over its decision to keep people on the ship, which some experts have called a perfect virus incubator.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told the USA TODAY Editorial Board and reporters Monday that the original idea to keep people safely quarantined on the ship wasn’t unreasonable. But even with the quarantine process on the ship, virus transmission still occurred.
“The quarantine process failed,” Fauci said. “I’d like to sugarcoat it and try to be diplomatic about it, but it failed. People were getting infected on that ship. Something went awry in the process of the quarantining on that ship. I don’t know what it was, but a lot of people got infected on that ship.”
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato initially said those disembarking the ship with negative virus tests had fulfilled the Japanese quarantine requirement and were free to walk out and go home on public transportation. Later Wednesday, he urged the former passengers to refrain from non-essential outings and try to stay home for about two weeks.
“COVID-19 is not 100% known, and a lot of people got infected on the Diamond Princess. Taking those factors into consideration, we believe taking extra caution will contribute to preventing the risk of future infections,” he said.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a more controlled health watch for the crew would start immediately because they can isolate themselves by spreading out and using vacated passenger rooms.
Contributing: David Oliver, Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
RELATED VIDEO: 14 coronavirus cruise evacuees chartered back to U.S. to 2nd quarantine
Off-the-beaten-path destinations to visit in 2020
Be the reason other people have FOMO by visiting these three underrated places with so much to offer. Buzz60’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo has more.
Cheapest time to visit Disneyland and Disney World
Experts say you can still get deals at Disneyland and Disney World.
Experts weigh in on the unwritten rules of flying
The CEO of Delta, as well as other experts weigh in on what they believe is proper airplane etiquette. Veuer’s Johana Restrepo has more.
Source: Read Full Article