Coronavirus: Two deaths from Japan cruise ship, media report


Earlier, Japan's Health Minister confirmed two Japanese passengers who contracted the Covid-19 virus on board the ship had died in hospital.

On arrival all passengers were screened before being allowed to leave the ship - none initially returned positive results or showed any symptoms of the disease, according to chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

The Diamond Princess was quarantined after one passenger who left the ship earlier in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.

Japan's NHK public television said both were Japanese in their 80s.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has seen the largest outbreak of the virus outside China, with 634 passengers having tested positive at last count.

Officials say more than 600 people on board ended up being infected and they were taken to shore to be treated.

The victims have not been publicly named.

The 47 Canadian passengers who have already tested positive for COVID-19 remain in Japan for treatment.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, when asked on Wednesday why Japanese leaving the ship did not have to spend another two weeks in quarantine, referred to the advice of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).

Two Australians who were on board the Diamond Princess have tested positive.

The government will keep on board foreign passengers waiting for charter flights that will take them back to their home countries.

Four other officials - a quarantine official, a paramedic who carried an infected passenger, a Health Ministry worker and an emergency relief medical expert - have also been sickened.

Kato said Australia, like the US, brought home a mixture of passengers who tested negative and others who were not tested and had an unknown status, therefore it was hard to know when or how they had contracted the virus.

A boatload of Australians stuck on a ship afflicted by the coronavirus will spend another 14 days in quarantine, with Qantas to fly them from Japan to Darwin.

They had already been quarantined on the Diamond Princess in Yokohama for two weeks, effectively leaving them confined for nearly a month.

Prof Murphy said it was up to the government to consider the risks and benefits of doing so.

The infected passengers are from South Australia and Western Australia.

After the passengers depart, the 1,000-some crew members are expected to move into the guest rooms and begin their own quarantine. The Diamond Princess has been under a two-week quarantine since February 5. Obenchain was among hundreds of Americans evacuated by the US government after the Department of Health and Human Services declared Sunday that "passengers and crew members on board are at high risk of exposure". The news was announced by Japan's health ministry on Thursday. "It's a bad thing to say 'Oh, you've got the virus.' But you know, being here in isolation at Queen of the Valley Hospital is probably the best thing that could've happened".



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