Japan has quarantined a cruise liner carrying 3,711 people and was testing those onboard for the new coronavirus Tuesday after a former passenger was diagnosed with the illness in Hong Kong .
Eight people on the vessel, which received Yokohama Bay on Monday, have symptoms like fever, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.
Television footage showed several quarantine officers boarding the Diamond Princess cruise liner at the port of Yokohama on Monday evening to see all 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew.
The move comes after an 80-year-old passenger who disembarked on January 25 in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus, which has killed 425 people in China.
The man “did not visit a medical centre inside the ship while he was sailing with us,” cruise operator Carnival Japan said during a statement.
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“According to the hospital where he’s staying, his condition is stable and infection wasn’t found among his relations who sailed with him,” the statement said.
A woman in her twenties who was sailing together with her mother on the ship told private broadcaster TBS on Tuesday that each one passengers “were asked to remain in their rooms to attend for virus tests”.
She said that they had been waiting since Monday and had no word of once they would be tested as of early Tuesday.
The vessel’s departure from Yokohama would be delayed by a minimum of 24 hours to Wednesday or later, Carnival Japan said.
The cruise liner had already been through a quarantine procedure on Saturday at a port in Naha in Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, and quarantine officials had issued certificates allowing passengers and crew to land, Suga said.
A health ministry official said nobody on board at that point showed any symptoms and therefore the case of the person who disembarked in Hong Kong wasn’t known at that point .
But after his case emerged, a second quarantine was organised.
“Quarantine officials at Naha told us to cancel the (certificate for landing) and perform a second quarantine as we will not rule out the likelihood of infection” after the passenger who got off in Hong Kong tested positive, he said.
Quarantine officials are now checking the condition of everyone on board and testing those with symptoms of illness for the new coronavirus, also as other infectious diseases, including malaria and dengue , a second health ministry official told AFP.
The decision on whether to permit the vessel to dock at Yokohama port and let passengers land on Japanese soil “will be made at the quarantine station,” taking into consideration the WHO’s estimate of a 10-day time period , Suga said.
Since Saturday, Japan has been barring foreign nationals who are to Hubei in recent weeks, also as holders of passports issued in Hubei — the Chinese province at the epicentre of the crisis.
Arrivals displaying symptoms of the new virus also can be denied entry.
A total of eight foreigners are barred from entering thus far , Suga said on Monday.
The health ministry said as of Monday that 20 people in Japan have tested positive for the new virus, of whom four showed no symptoms.
Japan has flown quite 500 citizens out of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated.