While the infected patients were transferred by Japan’s coast guard to hospitals on the mainland, the remainder of the passengers and crew on board the Carnival Corp ship were placed in quarantine.
Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said: ‘I want to take sufficient care of the health of passengers and crew and make every effort to prevent the spread of the virus.’
The decision means that passengers on Carnival’s Diamond Princess, who had embarked for a planned eight-day round trip that was due begin on Tuesday, will instead spend at least 14 days off Yokohama port near Tokyo. Passengers on the ship took to social media to detail their predicament, posting photos of officials in masks and gowns conducting health checks, room service meals, empty corridors, and a barren deck.
British passenger David Abel said all passengers were confined to their cabins on Wednesday morning, with staff delivering food room-by-room.
He said: ‘The challenging situation for me is that I’m an insulin dependent diabetic. We don’t have a choice in what we can eat, the announcement recently was that they’re starting on the bottom deck and working their way up – I’m on the ninth deck.’
‘This is not a good situation for me as a diabetic and I’m certain that there are many, many more diabetics on the ship.’
Another passenger, using the handle @daxa_tw, tweeted that he was ‘hearing from many sides that people are troubled and uneasy.’
The cruise ship was caught up in the global coronavirus epimedic after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the virus. The man disembarked in Kagoshima in Japan’s southern island of Kyushu on January 22, where he joined a bus tour, local media reported.