88 more coronavirus cases confirmed on cruise ship quarantined in Japan

By Associated Press Reporters

Japanese health authorities have confirmed 88 more cases of coronavirus on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo.

The new cases bring the total on the Diamond Princess to 542.

The number is by far the largest outside China.

The Japanese government has repeatedly defended the effectiveness of the quarantine and bristled against criticism that the ship became a virus incubator instead of a quarantine facility.

The two-week quarantine ends on Wednesday with thousands of passengers and crew set to disembark over the next few days in the port of Yokohama.

As of Tuesday, 542 cases of the virus have been identified among 3,711 quarantined passengers and crew.

The Japanese government has repeatedly defended the effectiveness of the quarantine, but some scientists suggest it may have been less than rigorous.

In a possible sign of lax protocols, three Japanese health officials who helped in the quarantine checks on the ship were also infected.

(PA Graphics)

Health minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters that all passengers who remain on the cruise ship have had their samples taken and that those who tested negative would start getting off the vessel beginning on Wednesday.

“They all want to go home as early as possible, and we hope to assist them so that everyone can get home smoothly,” he said.

The process is expected to take until Friday because of the large number of people involved.