Number of Coronavirus Cases Aboard Diamond Princess Rises to 64

Quarantined passengers aboard the Diamond Princess are allowed periodic breaks on deck (image via social media)

Published Feb 7, 2020 8:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, Japan's Ministry of Health announced that it has confirmed 44 more cases of coronavirus infection aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 64. If the UK-flagged vessel were a nation on its own, it would be the country with the largest number of coronavirus cases outside of China. 

Earlier this week, health authorities in Yokohama collected samples from 273 people aboard the Diamond Princess who either showed symptoms or who had been in contact with a known case. The 61 confirmed cases are all part of this cohort, and all have been removed from the vessel and hospitalized. Their nationalities include Argentina (one); Australia (five); Canada (five), Japan (21); United Kingdom (one) and the United States (eight).

There are about 3,700 people on board in total, and they will have to wait for the end of a two-week quarantine period before they can disembark. "The quarantine end date will be February 19, unless there are any other unforeseen developments," Princess Cruises said in a statement. "The Japanese government is also providing our ship and team members additional manpower support."

If further passengers develop symptoms and test positive for the illness, the quarantine clock will be reset. The crew has reportedly distributed thermometers to allow passengers to monitor themselves for fever. “We have instructions to monitor our temperatures and report if we’re above 37.5 [Celcius],” one passenger told Reuters. 

“Our current policy is to test passengers if the symptoms of the virus appear,” a Japanese official told the Washington Post on Friday. “And in addition, we will test those at high risk, meaning who had close contacts with them.”

For now, passengers are confined to their cabins, and crewmembers in gowns and masks are delivering food. Passengers berthed in interior staterooms are allowed periodic breaks on deck, under guidelines from Japan's Ministry of Health.

In a statement, Princess said that it was opening up more entertainment and communications options for those on board. Passengers can now access complimentary internet and telephone service, eight more satellite TV channels, 80 more video-on-demand releases, printed newspapers, games, arts and crafts, kids' activity packs and a variety of room service food and beverage options.