WUHAN VIRUS/No Taiwanese test positive for Wuhan virus on quarantined ship (update)

Taipei, Feb. 5 (CNA) No Taiwanese are among the 10 people on board a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama harbor who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), according to the cruise line operator Wednesday.

The 10 people who tested positive include nine passengers two Australians, three Japanese, three from Hong Kong, and one American and one Filipino crewmember, following the first phase health screening conducted by Japanese health authorities on all 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess, according to a Princess Cruises statement.

“These 10 persons, who have been notified, will be taken ashore by Japanese Coast Guard watercraft and transported to local hospitals for care by shoreside Japanese medical professionals,” the statement said.

The cruise liner added that the ship will remain under quarantine in Yokohama for at least 14 days as required by the Japanese Ministry of Health.

According to Princess Cruises, there are 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew currently on board covering a range of nationalities. About half the passengers are Japanese.

The company did not say how many Taiwanese are on board the cruise ship but local media reported the number at around 20.

The ship was due to set off on an eight day round trip cruise on Wednesday, but that has been canceled, the company said.

Meanwhile, the company’s representative in Taiwan, Peter Chen (???), told local media in Taipei that the cruise ship in question docked in northern Keelung Port on Jan. 31 and the company is still checking if any of the 10 confirmed infected passengers visited Taiwan during the port call.

Port of Keelung, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, said in a press release that according to the National Immigration Agency, a total of 2,694 people on board the vessel entered the country on Jan. 31.

As the cruise line company did not make public the identities of the 10 passengers confirmed as having contracted the coronavirus, the port of Keelung is unable to confirm if any of them visited Taiwan, it noted. The cruise ship arrived in Keelung around 7 a.m. before leaving at 5 p.m.

The cruise line operator’s statement was released after Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato confirmed the 10 cases earlier in the day as Japanese authorities continue to monitor thousands of passengers and crew.

According to Kato, health screenings on everyone on board the Diamond Princess identified 273 people for further testing. Of that group, 31 results had been received so far, revealing 10 confirmed cases.

The health checks began on Monday evening when the ship returned to Yokohama, after an 80 year old Hong Kong man who sailed on the vessel late last month later tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.

According to media reports, the infected passenger traveled for five days on the Diamond Princess from Yokohama on Jan. 20 and disembarked on Jan. 25 in Hong Kong, where he tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb. 1, six days after leaving the ship.

Taiwan announced Tuesday that cruise ships that have visited China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 14 days are prohibited from entering Taiwanese ports with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, cruise ships that have carried passengers confirmed or suspected of suffering from coronavirus in the last 28 days will likewise be refused entry.

A tourism agency representative told CNA Wednesday that due to the ban, Diamond Princess has canceled a port call to northern Keelung Port originally scheduled for Feb. 25, while World Dream cruise has postponed a port call to Keelung originally scheduled on Feb 11 until Feb. 22.

The southern port of Kaohsiung prohibited a port call by a World Dream cruise ship Tuesday evening after it was reported that three passengers who sailed on the ship last month later developed coronavirus symptoms.

The ship returned to Hong Kong late Tuesday.

Port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, said Wednesday that the ban is expected to affect a total of 16 scheduled port calls by cruise ships to the southern port before the end of March.

Meanwhile, Port of Keelung, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, said the ban is expected to affect six scheduled port calls by cruise ships before the end of February, with five being canceled and one postponed.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel