Cruise ship Diamond Princess is seen anchored off Yokohama Port on Tuesday night Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan begins screening 3,700 cruise ship passengers and crew in Yokohama

By Sakura Murakami and Naomi Tajitsu

Health screening began on Tuesday for some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard a cruise ship held in quarantine at the Japanese port of Yokohama, after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.

The 80-year-old man flew to Japan and boarded the ship, the Diamond Princess, run by Carnival Japan Inc, in Yokohama on Jan 20 and disembarked in Hong Kong on Jan 25, the company said.

Photographs and video posted on Twitter by a passenger with the handle @daxa_tw showed masked health workers clad in blue plastic gowns walking down empty corridors as well as views of deserted lounges and a barren deck.

Quarantine operations take place on the sixth deck of the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Yokohama on Tuesday. Photo: Twitter / @DAXA_TW via REUTERS

Guests awaiting screening were asked to stay in their cabins, where they answered a questionnaire and had their temperatures taken. But onboard announcements later in the day said about 70% of the health checks had been completed and activities were operating normally except for the casino, shops and photo studio.

Some family members expressed concern about relatives trapped on board. "Unaffected people can easily say 'keep them out' but my whole family wants my precious sister to come home safe," tweeted one twitter user.

Carnival Japan, a unit of British-American cruise operator Carnival Corp, confirmed that the turnaround of the ship had been delayed by about 24 hours for authorities to review the health of all 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board. About half of those on board were Japanese, a company spokeswoman said.

Carnival's Princess Cruises Japan later said cruises scheduled to depart from Yokohama on Tuesday and the western Japanese port of Kobe on Thursday would be cancelled because of delays related to the coronavirus checks.

Once everyone's health was checked, those with fevers or who felt unwell would be tested, after which authorities would decide whether to let people leave the ship, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.

A health ministry official said not everyone would be tested with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) kits because it was too time-consuming and deemed unnecessary.

Public broadcaster NHK said authorities were checking whether the Hong Kong man who later tested positive had disembarked when the ship docked in Kagoshima, southwest Japan.

NHK also said that when the ship made a stop in Naha on Okinawa, about 10 passengers got off after checks showed no passengers had fever or other symptoms.

Also on Tuesday, Japan expanded the scope of its screening for the virus generally after some people who had not met criteria for testing were later found to be infected.

Opposition parties and some experts have criticised the government for responding too slowly to the risks following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. So far, the epidemic that has claimed more than 420 lives in mainland China.

Chinese make up 30% of all tourists travelling to Japan and nearly 40% of the total amount foreign visitors spent last year, according to an industry survey.

Japan has 20 confirmed coronavirus cases, of these 17 people have been in Wuhan. And on Saturday, Japan began refusing entry to foreigners who have been in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, in the past 14 days as well as people with passports issued in Hubei.

Suga said that as of Feb. 3, eight foreigners had been barred from entering Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary panel the government would be flexible about expanding areas in China from which visitors would be banned, depending on trends in China.

Some countries including the United States and Australia have denied entry to all foreign nationals travelling from China.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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So the quarantine is only going to last 24 hours? What will they do with all the passengers and staff after that? The logistics of dealing with this new virus is turning out to be a huge problem for the government. Let's hope they handle it properly this time.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The logistics of dealing with this new virus is turning out to be a huge problem for the government

and every other government in the world.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

The logistics of dealing with this new virus

Yes, very apt choice of words 'logistics', the virus certainly employs it to spread beyond China.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Knowing this virus is contagious before people being symptomatic and also knowing the virus has up to a 14 day incubation period we all know that this "quarantine" is not going to do much.

The company confirmed that the turnaround of the ship had been delayed by about 24 hours to allow Japan's public health authorities to review the health status of all guests and crew on board.

Cruise ships have been in the past really really great incubators for virus' and bacteria (anyone else old enough to remember the Legionnaires' disease breakouts on cruise ships decades ago?)

I am not going to make any criticism of this action (because holding all of these people for 14 days would be a logistical nightmare) but let's be honest about this; it is quite likely someone else on the ship has acquired the corona virus and it is likely they will be in contact with the public.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I think if they really wanted to, it's possible to test and isolate healthy from sick, AND confine the sick, eg like what Singapore did during SARS, GPS wrist trackers and confine people to their homes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )


Quarantine everyone BEFORE travelling until they find a reliable way to test for Coronavirus?

Though I’m (maybe) serious, the logistics of this is impossible, I guess. Both for government and travellers

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wait, where did they say that the ship would only be quarantined for 24 hours? Because I don’t see it in the article. I mean I agree that is a long enough time, but I just wanted to make sure that’s what’s in fact is going to happen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So, the 80 year had symptoms before embarking!

He was in the airport, buses and contagious?

When will the Japanese government wise up?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Is the port of disembarkation Japan? Or is Japan just a port of call before the ship moves on?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is the port of disembarkation Japan? Or is Japan just a port of call before the ship moves on?

The ship departs from Yokohama, then goes to Kagoshima, HK, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, HK again, then back to Kagoshima and Yokohama.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I hope they know the whereabouts of the 80 year old. Not that this will help everyone he’s contaminated to date.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So the quarantine is only going to last 24 hours? What will they do with all the passengers and staff after that?

That's an easy answer, let them go out on their merry way in public. But yeah get your point about the 24 hrs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Asked if the epidemic would affect a visit by Chinese leader Xi Jinping expected to take place in April, Suga said preparations for the visit were proceeding as planned."

If you are not allowing Chinese people and people who have visited China in the last couple if weeks in, then the President of China's visit must be postponed or cancelled. It smacks of double standards.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So the quarantine is only going to last 24 hours?

It starts with 24 hours anyway, it's the time to test and get the results. Then they may extend. It's not sure when the man got contaminated, could be after leaving the boat.

Last week, there was a boat in Italy, quarantined 2 days as 2 passengers were thought to be sick, but after all they were not, they tested everybody, nobody was contaminated. So they stopped grounding them the next day.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The Love Boat.  With added virus.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article fails to mention that some passengers disembarked in Okinawa several days. Authorities are trying now to find them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope they can at least get room service not only for food but for other necessities such as toilet paper.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What a nightmare. Good luck to them all.

Apropos of nothing in particular, but we took a trip on that (Diamond Princess) ship years ago. Had a lot of well-designed swimming pools. There was a large contingent of Brits aboard.....what a lot of party animals! When we went on a British ship, the Queen Mary 2, the Brits acted all prim and proper, but get them on a foreign-flagged ship, and they really let their hair down.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since last Friday, no announcement of new cases within Japan, except for 3 guys can from Wuhan. Hope it is a good sign.

But I have just read that 2 new cases in Thailand are people coming back from Japan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cruise ship are notorious for having major outbreak of disease under normal conditions

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thank you for telling us this coskuri. Because I was beginning to wonder myself if 24 hours would be enough. But judging by the article, 70% of the passengers have been checked and I don’t think it’s been 24 hours yet. I guess it just shows that they have enough workers to deal with the numbers. Unless I’m missing something.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not fake news, is that China medic personnel are conducting 2-3 tests before confirming people as not infected. Problem is that they are running low on test kits. Japan should do the same as 1 test is not conclusive to say a person has not been exposed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Never had a desire for cruise on a ship of this type. So many people packed into one space. Would be my idea of a nightmare.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"But I have just read that 2 new cases in Thailand are people coming back from Japan"

People who visited Japan, more accurately.

Depending how long the visit lasted, they could have entered Japan already infected.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This infection is spreading the way it did because the Chinese government failed to close its borders, bribed the WHO to lie about the situation, simultaneously lying to the rest of the world about the virus' actual severity. All done in an attempt to save face. Chinese citizens then make the efforts to travel to other places in an attempt to 'escape' the infection all the while realizing they themselves might be carriers of said infection and refuse to turn themselves in.

This is a practice that is disrespectful, selfish and shameful. Now the rest of the world are coerced into partaking the responsibility.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So much for my plans for my plans to visit for cherry-blossom viewing, this year! Makes me wonder how many other North Americans have decided to cancel any plans to visit Japan, China, or Taiwan. I'm guessing thousands.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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