Two passengers from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship moored near Tokyo have died, according to local media.
The victims were a man and a woman in their 80s, NHK reported on Thursday, citing a government source.
Both had underlying conditions and had been taken off the ship on February 11 and 12 before being treated in hospital.
More than 620 passengers have been infected on the ship, which has been quarantined since February 3, initially with about 3,700 people on board.
Two passengers from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship moored near Tokyo have died, according to local media
Earlier this week, the cruise ship began disembarking passengers who have tested negative for the virus following a 14-day quarantine period
On Wednesday, 443 passengers disembarked after testing negative for the COVID-19 virus and not showing symptoms during a 14-day quarantine period.
Another 100 people were to leave for chartered flights home, a health ministry official said.
CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FIGURES:
- 75,302 cases worldwide
- 2012 deaths
- Fatality rate of 2.7 per cent (0.6 per cent outside China)
- 621 people have so far tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently locked down in Japan
- Two cruise ship passengers have reportedly died
- A Qantas flight with Australian cruise passengers arrived in Darwin on Thursday morning
- No positive virus detections have been recorded at the Howard Springs camp in the group of previous evacuees
- China travel ban will be reviewed by national security committee of cabinet in the next 24 hours
Those who have shared a room with people testing positive were required to remain in quarantine, as were crew.
The ministry could not confirm how many people remained on board, or when disembarkation would be complete.
More than 150 Australian passengers arrived home after a pre-dawn departure from Tokyo’s Haneda airport. They face another 14-day quarantine.
Buses escorted by police cars transported the Australian passengers from Yokohama to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport late Wednesday.
The buses drove the Australians straight to the tarmac, where they boarded the government-chartered plane.
Some Hong Kong passengers also went home, while Canadians were due to leave on a charter flight in the early hours of Friday, Tokyo time, a Canadian government spokeswoman said. An evacuation flight was also being arranged for British nationals to leave Tokyo on Friday.
Earlier in the week, the United States evacuated more than 300 nationals on two chartered flights.
A U.S. State Department official said there were still about 45 U.S. citizens on board the cruise ship as of Thursday.
Americans flown back will have to complete another 14 days quarantine, as will returning Hong Kong residents.
Disembarked Japanese passengers, however, face no such restrictions, a decision that has sparked concern.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, when asked on Wednesday why Japanese leaving the ship did not have to spend another two weeks in quarantine, referred to the advice of Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).
A large group of Australians quarantined on the ship are on their way home on a special Qantas flight. Pictured: Australians Clare Hedger and her mother during an evacuation to Darwin ahead of quarantine
Medical staff wearing protective suits are seen at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal where the Diamond Princess is anchored
The NIID said there should be no problem if people had shown no symptoms for 14 days and had tested negative for the virus during the period their health was under surveillance.
Besides those on the cruise liner and returnees brought home from Wuhan, China, about 70 cases of domestic infections have been confirmed in Japan, including 25 in Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The spread of the virus has raised concerns about planning for the Tokyo Summer Olympics as well as the impact on Japan’s economy.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato on Thursday defended Japan’s response in parliament, telling lawmakers that officials have taken expert advice and responded to issues on a daily basis.
In a move to reassure the public, the health ministry also issued a statement in both English and Japanese that said all passengers had been required to stay in their cabins since February 5 to contain the virus.