At least two Indian crew members aboard a cruise ship off the Japanese coast tested positive for the corona virus, the Indian embassy in Japan said on Wednesday when the authorities confirmed that a total of 174 people were infected with the fatal disease.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,711 people – 2,666 crew members and 1,045 crew members – arrived on the Japanese coast early last week and was quarantined after it was found that a passenger disembarking in Hong Kong in January was the carrier of the novel Virus on the ship.
A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew members and 6 passengers, are on board the ship. "The ship was quarantined by the Japanese authorities by February 19, 2020, on suspicion of a novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection," the embassy said.
"By February 12, 2020, a total of 174 people had tested positive for nCoV, including two Indian crew members," it said. All infected individuals were taken to hospital for appropriate treatment, including additional quarantine, in accordance with the Japanese Health Protocol.
The Indian Embassy has been in constant contact with the Japanese authorities to ensure the wellbeing of Indian nationals on board the ship and the possibility of early disembarkation if it turns out that they have not tested positive for the virus. The Japanese authorities have confirmed that they comply with the established health protocols.
"The Indian embassy in Tokyo contacted the Indian nationals by email and phone, explaining the health and safety regulations of the Japanese authorities and asking them to cooperate," the statement said.
"None of the Indian nationals complained about discriminatory treatment," it said. The mission is in constant contact with the ship management company Princess Cruises (for the crew members) and the employer of six passengers bind their trip back to India.
Specifying details states that those who did not test positive regardless of their nationality were only allowed to disembark from seriously ill passengers and crew members who were allowed to be taken to hospital for further treatment and quarantine.
According to the PTI news agency, ship members were asked to wear masks, and media reports have given them limited access to the open decks as they are advised to stay in the cabins most of the time to stem the spread of the virus. The operator of the ship had promised on February 10 (Monday) to reimburse all 2,666 passengers due to the outbreak of the new corona virus on board.
Carnival Japan Inc., the Japanese subsidiary of Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. that operates the ship, said reimbursements are being offered through travel agents through which passengers made their bookings, PTI added.
The company also assumes all costs incurred by those who have been quarantined on board the ship since February 4 when the passengers were originally supposed to disembark in Yokohama.
The death toll from China's novel coronavirus outbreak rose to 1,113. 97 new deaths were reported mainly in the worst affected province of Hubei, while confirmed cases of infection increased to 44,653, health officials said on Wednesday. The coronavirus outbreak originated in central China's Hubei province in December 2019.
The virus was officially designated "COVID-19" by the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 11. Several countries have banned arrivals from China, while major airlines have suspended flights to the country.