Japan confirms coronavirus among ship passengers

The Diamond Princess.
The Diamond Princess. Photo credit: Princess Cruises.

Ten people onboard a cruise liner docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus, Japan's health minister has announced, a figure that could rise as screening of thousands of passengers and crew continued.

The 10 confirmed cases were among 31 results from 273 people tested so far, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference on Wednesday morning.

There are around 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the Carnival ship. It was not immediately clear how many people had been screened and how many would undergo testing for the virus.

Health officials were testing people who had shown symptoms such as fevers or those who had been in close contact with such people, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The health checks began on Monday evening after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.

Photographs and video posted on Twitter showed masked health workers clad in blue plastic gowns walking down empty corridors on the Diamond Princess as well as views of deserted lounges and a barren deck.

Carnival's Princess Cruises Japan said on Tuesday that cruises scheduled to depart from Yokohama and the western Japanese port of Kobe this week would be cancelled because of delays related to the coronavirus checks.

The new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases to 33 in Japan.