TOKYO – Japanese authorities allowed on Friday elderly people with health complications to disembark a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama after hundreds of its thousands of passengers contracted a new coronavirus that has killed more than 1,400 people.
Public broadcaster NHK said the first passengers that fit this criterion disembarked at 14:00 local time (0600 GMT) from the Diamond Princess, adding that they would be transferred to an educational center in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, where they will see out the quarantine.
The 3,700 people arrived Feb. 3 aboard the Diamond Princess, including passengers and crew, and at least 200 of them have already been confirmed to be infected by the COVID-19, the origin of which is linked to fish markets in Wuhan, China.
Though the infected, according to the results, the Japanese authorities transferred them to medical centers, the rest will remain in the barcode, in quarantine, at least until next Wednesday.
Authorities Tuesday allowed people over 80 who suffer from medical complications and tested negative for the illness to leave the ship, as long as they accept the transfer. Authorities did not specify how many people accepted the transfer.
More than 250 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Japan, 218 of them on the Diamond Princess. Of those a lady in her 80s has died in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture.
Authorities are investigating how she contracted the virus, adding that her son in law, a taxi driver in his 70s who lives in Tokyo, was also infected.
The World Health Organization on Tuesday officially named the disease COVID-19, while the virus which causes it has been called SARS-CoV-2 (changed from its provisional name 2019-nCoV) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
The organization said “CO” stands for “corona,” “VI” for “virus, “D” for “disease” and “-19” for “2019” – as the outbreak was first detected Dec. 31.
COVID-19’s symptoms are in many cases similar to those of a cold but may be accompanied by fever, fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).