YOKOHAMA, Japan (ABC4 News) – The Prime Minister of Japan confirmed 44 new coronavirus cases on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently docked at Yokohama, Japan. The new reports bring the total number to 219.
At least three Utah couples are among the approximate 3,700 people who have been quarantined since the 4th and one of them could be disembarking soon.
Princess Cruises, the ship’s operator, said on a previous voyage, a guest from Hong Kong embarked in Yokohama on January 20, sailed one segment on the itinerary, and disembarked in Hong Kong five days later. He visited a local hospital there and tested positive for coronavirus on February 1.
Guests onboard were scheduled to return on February 4, but instead were kept for a two-week quarantine. Utahns who were part of that ship told ABC4 News the cruise line has been doing its best to provide complementary services for those who have been quarantined. The company announced Sunday it would issue a full refund for all guests and offer a future cruise credit.
St. George residents Mark and Jerri Jorgensen received a visit from the ship’s quarantine medical team Wednesday, who performed throat swab tests on them. The couple said although they did not exhibit symptoms, they said they were chosen because of Mark’s compromised immune system and transplants.
“I also asked him [medical team member] when I would get my test results back. He said, ‘No news is good news.’ They’re going to keep testing me every other day,” said Mark in a Facebook live video Wednesday.
“That means they’ll test me too because I’m kind of close to him,” Jerri added.
Japanese officials announced that some “vulnerable” passengers may be able to leave the ship earlier than expected. One of those passengers is Tooele resident John Haering. His wife, Melanie said he had been experiencing flu-like symptoms including a fever, nausea, and a rash.
Thursday, Melanie shared an update that John had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Since ABC4 News last spoke to Karey and Roger Maniscalco, another St. George couple aboard the cruise ship, the wife said she experienced excruciating pain four days ago and believed she was having a kidney stone. But she decided to tough it out after medical crews said she would have to leave the ship to get the proper treatment.
“If you have any medical needs on this ship, they will immediately separate you and your spouse or whoever you’re traveling with and you will be solely on your own at that point. There’s lots of rumors that once you disembark from the ship that your quarantine starts over another 14 days and that’s just something I’m not willing to do unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she said in a Facebook live video on Wednesday.
According to Princess Cruises, Japanese health officials plan to allow voluntary disembarkation for guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility. The process will be a phased approach, with the most medically vulnerable guests leaving first, including older adults with pre-existing health conditions. The quarantine is expected to end on the 19th unless there are any unforeseen developments in the next few days.
Meanwhile, China’s Hubei province announced 242 new deaths Thursday from the coronavirus, which is twice as many as the previous day. New infections there jumped by more than 14,000, according to CNN. The spike in numbers is partly due to a broader definition of what constitutes as a confirmed case, which includes people diagnosed based on their symptoms rather than testing positive.
Globally, CNN reports there are at least 570 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in more than 25 countries and territories outside mainland China. The international death toll hit 1,300.
The U.S. confirmed its 15th case as a person at a San Antonio military base was placed under quarantine. The patient returned on a charter flight from China on the 7th. More than 600 people who returned on charter flights from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus are under federal quarantine. Officials said there’s a good chance the U.S. will see more cases in the upcoming weeks.
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