Japanese health officials, along with Princess Cruises, have announced an additional 44 positive cases of the COVID-19 — previously known as the novel coronavirus — among passengers aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama.
The number of infected passengers totaled 218 as of Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Princess Cruises further confirmed plans for “voluntary guest disembarkation,” as outlined and overseen by Japanese health officials.
“Princess Cruises has been informed that over the next several days, Japanese health officials are planning a voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility,” the cruise line wrote in an update on its website. “From the information available it is our understanding that this will be a phased approach, with the most medically vulnerable guests in the first phase, including older adults with pre-existing health conditions.”
Once screened, guests who test positive will be transported to local hospitals. Those who test negative will be given the option of relocating to a shoreside facility, with individual rooms and bathrooms, for the final stages of quarantine. Guests are “also welcome to stay" on the Diamond Princess, if they so choose.
Princess Cruise’s latest announcement comes only a day after the Japanese Ministry of Health confirmed 39 new cases of COVID-19 among passengers on Feb 11, and three days after 66 other passengers were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus on Feb 9.
The Diamond Princess had been quarantined since Feb 3., after returning early from a 14-day cruise which stopped in Hong Kong and several other Asian ports. Concerns were initially raised after an 80-year-old passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong on Jan. 25 tested positive for COVID-19.
There were 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board when the ship returned to Yokohama on Feb. 3.
The novel coronavoris, which was officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has so far claimed the lives of over 1,300 and infected over 60,000.