January 16, 2021

Coronavirus: Passengers leave Diamond Princess amid criticism of Japan

A passenger leaves the Diamond Princess cruise ship - in quarantine due to fears of the new Covid-19 coronavirus - at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, 19 February 2020Image copyright

Hundreds of passengers who tested negative for the new corona virus have begun leaving a quarantined cruise ship in Japan amid heavy criticism over the country’s handling of the outbreak.

One Japanese health expert who visited the Diamond Princess at the port in Yokohama said the situation on board was “completely chaotic”.

US officials said moves to contain the virus “may not have been sufficient”.

At least 542 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess have so far been infected by the Covid-19 virus – the biggest cluster outside mainland China.

The ship was carrying 3,700 people in total.

A bus believed to be carrying passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess, leaves Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in YokohamaImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSome of those who disembarked on Wednesday were collected by coach

A British couple on the ship – who had been giving regular updates to journalists via social media – confirmed on Wednesday they had tested positive for the virus.

Media captionUK coronavirus cruise couple: “I just want someone to take care of them”

The US, Canada, Australia and the UK will place all those released from the ship in another 14 days’ quarantine when they return home.

What are the fears over the passengers?

Several experts have questioned the effectiveness of the quarantine measures on the Diamond Princess.

Kentaro Iwata, professor at the infectious diseases division of Japan’s Kobe University, described the situation on board as “completely inadequate in terms of infection control”.

The expert said he was more afraid of catching the virus on board than he had been working in the field in Africa during the Ebola epidemic and in China during the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak.

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