2 Indians Test Positive For Coronavirus On Ship Quarantined Off Japan

The cruise ship Diamond Princess is carrying 138 Indians and arrived at the Japanese coast early last week. A total of 174 people on the ship have been tested positive for the novel virus, the embassy said.


New Delhi:

Two Indian crew members have tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship off the Japanese coast, the Indian Embassy in Japan confirmed on Wednesday.

The ship was quarantined with almost 3,700 passengers and crew members aboard on February 3.

A passenger carrying the virus had deboarded the ship last month in Hong Kong, the embassy said in a statement, adding it has been quarantined till February 19.

The cruise ship Diamond Princess is carrying 138 Indians and arrived at the Japanese coast early last week. A total of 174 people on the ship have been tested positive for the novel virus, the embassy said.

"Due to the suspicion of novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection, the ship has been quarantined by the Japanese authorities till February 19, 2020," the embassy said in a statement.

The Indian crew members had sought assistance from the Indian government. Binay Kumar Sarkar -- a chef from north Bengal -- had gone on social media to appeal to the government for help. "Please somehow save us as soon as possible. What's the point if something happens (to us)...I want to tell the government of India, Modi-ji, please segregate us and bring us back home safely," he said.

The Indian Embassy in Tokyo had responded with an assurance that it is "constantly monitoring" the situation.

Sonali Thakur, an Indian officer onboard the ship, has also appealed to the government to take them "back to India and isolate them".

"We just want to go back home," she said.

When the boat arrived off Japan, authorities initially tested nearly 300 people for the virus of the 3,711 on board, gradually evacuating dozens who were infected to local medical facilities.

In recent days, testing has expanded to those with new symptoms or who had close contact with other infected passengers or crew, and several more cases were reported over the weekend.

Those who remain on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins and allowed only briefly onto open decks.

They have been asked to wear masks and keep a distance from each other when outside, and given thermometers to regularly monitor their temperatures.

The coronavirus outbreak originated in central China's Hubei province in December last year.

The number of deaths rose to 1,113 in Hubei while the confirmed cases of infection jumped to 44,653, health officials said on Wednesday.

The virus was officially named "COVID-19" by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China while major airlines have suspended flights to the country.

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