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A total of 148 crew members stationed aboard the Costa Atlantica cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to reports.
The ship, which is operated by Costa Cruises, has been docked for maintenance in Japan since February. Last week, the company in charge of the ship’s repairs reported at least one of the 600-plus crew members was experiencing cough and fever. Days later, nearly 50 tested positive for COVID-19.
On Monday, Japanese authorities finished testing the 632 crew members aboard the Costa Atlantica, determining a total of 148 had been infected, USA Today reported.
"The health and safety of our people, along with compliance and environmental protection, is always our utmost priority, and we have been constantly monitoring the health of our colleagues on board during the ships' stay in Japan," said a representative for the Carnival Corporation, which owns Costa Cruises, in a statement provided to USA Today.
The ship’s outbreak initially “puzzled” Japanese officials, The Associated Press reported, largely because the city where the Costa Atlantica is docked – Nagasaki – had only 17 confirmed cases at the time.
Furthermore, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, the company in charge of the ship’s repairs, had initially claimed that no crew members had left the ship since March 14, when Nagasaki reported its first case of COVID-19. In later statements, Mitsubishi said that crew members had, in fact, left the ship since March 14, but only after passing temperature screenings. They also reportedly acknowledged that some of the crew may have been switched out at some point.
At least one of the crew members who initially tested positive for COVID-19 was transported to a Nagasaki hospital and placed on a ventilator.
Those who tested negative, meanwhile, are planning to be repatriated “through charter or commercial flight,” a Carnival spokesperson told USA Today.
All crew members, aside from those performing essential functions, are currently isolated in single cabins.