The health ministry announced on Friday, Feb. 7, that a total of 61 people tested positive for the coronavirus on a quarantined cruise ship off Yokohama, Japan, a steep increase from the 20 confirmed cases on the previous day.

The 41 new patients, who have tested positive, were to be taken off the ship for medical treatment. The cases are—21 were Japanese, eight were Americans, five were Australians, five were Canadians, and one each from Argentina and Britain.

None are in serious condition. Thirty-five cases of the ship’s 41 new cases were among passengers 60 or older, according to The Straits Times.

“As they were staying together for a prolonged period in a closed environment, their contact was repeated,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said. “Our top priority is to check the health of passengers and crew of the cruise ship and take thorough measures to prevent infections.”

The remaining 3,650 passengers and crew members on the ship have been stuck inside their cabins for days as part of a two-week quarantine period.

However, there were just 273 people on the ship who were screened for the pathogen after an infected passenger got on the ship in Japan on Jan. 20 and got off in Hong Kong on Jan. 25, according to The Oregonian.

People were tested if they showed symptoms such as fever or coughing or had close contact with an 80-year-old man who is believed to have been the first case.

Kent Frasure, a passenger, expressed concern about officials’ handling of the crisis. He said passengers were allowed to mingle even after he believes they learned that the Hong Kong passenger had been infected.

His 35-year-old wife, who also had tested positive for coronavirus, said she felt fine, for the most part except for a minor cough.

And she will stay at a hospital for at least three days. If she gets better, she will be taken back to the cruise ship to wait out the rest of the 14-day quarantine. Otherwise, she will stay in the hospital.

Yu Li, a mother of two infants on the World Dream cruise, said the most difficult part was a lack of clarity from the local authorities about where passengers would be quarantined, The New York Times reported.

“Most passengers are willing to be isolated whether or not they have symptoms,” she said. “I hope the government can give us a reply as soon as possible and tell us whether it would take place at home, or on the cruise, or in designated quarantine centers.”

Families with young children are mostly bunkered in their rooms watching movies that the cruise ship company has distributed to help alleviate boredom, Li added. Meanwhile, older passengers were less willing to be confined to their rooms, choosing to play mahjong in communal spaces.

The ship Diamond Princess has traveled to southern Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Okinawa.


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