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Coronavirus on cruise: passengers leave the coronavirus cruise at last; Japan’s effort under fire | World News


TOKYO / BEIJING: Hundreds of people began landing a cruise ship in Japan on Wednesday after staying on board for more than two weeks under quarantine, as criticism of Japan’s handling of the largest outbreak of coronavirus outside China increased.

Even when the patients left the Diamond Princess cruise with their suitcases, the Japanese authorities announced that 79 new cases had been discovered on board, with a total exceeding 620, more than half of the known cases outside mainland China.

In China itself, the death toll from the coronavirus rose to more than 2,000, but the recently reported case count dropped for the second day to the lowest since January, offering hope and helping to increase Asian stocks and US stock futures .

China is struggling to recover its economy after imposing severe travel restrictions to contain a virus that emerged in the central province of Hubei at the end of last year.

Beyond mainland China, six people have died from the disease, and governments around the world are trying to prevent it from spreading to a global epidemic. Princess Diamond has been in quarantine on a pier in Yokohama near Tokyo since February 3, initially with 3,700 people on board.

Since Wednesday, passengers who turned negative and showed no symptoms were free to leave. About 500 were expected to disembark on Wednesday, and the rest of the eligible would leave in the next two days. Confirmed cases had to be sent to the hospital, while those who shared cabins with infected passengers could still stay on board.

About half of the passengers and crew are Japanese, and are free to go home once authorized to leave. Other countries have said they will take passengers home and put them in quarantine upon arrival. The United States transported more than 300 passengers to air bases in California and Texas this week.

“I really want to get off this ship,” Australian passenger Vicki Presland told Reuters via a social media link. She was among a group of Australians coming down to take an evacuation flight back to 14 days of quarantine in the city of Darwin.

Matthew Smith, an American passenger who remained on board after refusing the U.S. evacuation earlier this week, tweeted a video of the passengers who left with their bags.

“The Captain wishes ‘Arrivederci’ to the guests who leave the ship today, but omits his usual ‘Buon Appetito’ to those of us who are still waiting for our destiny. Hey, what are we, cut liver!” he wrote.

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“Completely inappropriate”

The rapid spread of the disease on board the ship has provoked strong criticism from the Japanese authorities, only a few months before Japan is host to the Olympic Games.

Infectious disease specialist Kentaro Iwata of the Kobe University Hospital in Japan, who volunteered to help aboard the ship, described the infection control effort on board as “completely inappropriate” and said that the basic protocols had not been followed .

“There was not a single infection control professional on the ship and there was no one in charge of infection prevention as a professional. The bureaucrats were in charge of everything,” he said in a YouTube video.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato defended Japan’s efforts: “Unfortunately, cases of infection have arisen, but as far as possible we have taken appropriate measures to prevent serious cases,” Kato said in a report from the broadcaster. NHK state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the USA. UU. They said Japan’s efforts “may not have been enough to prevent transmission between people on the ship.”

From the beginning, experts raised questions about the quarantine on the ship. The passengers were not confined to their rooms until February 5. The day before, while the passengers were being examined, the events on board continued, including dances, quizzes and an exercise class, said one passenger.

Live updates of the Chinese coronavirus outbreak

Best day in China

The promising exit from China came from the National Health Commission, which reported 1,749 new confirmed cases, the lowest figure since January 29. Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported the least amount of new infections since February 11, while out in Hubei there were only 56 new cases, below a peak of 890 on February 3.

The latest figures raise the total number of cases in China to more than 74,000 and the death toll to 2,004, three quarters of which have occurred in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei.

In addition to the difficult steps taken to isolate Hubei, where the flu-like virus originated in a market that illegally sells wildlife, state media reported that the province would track anyone who has visited doctors with fever since 20 January or have bought a cough without a prescription. and fever medications.

Chinese officials have said the apparent slowdown in infection rates is evidence that strict measures are working. Epidemiologists outside China have said in recent days that the reports there are encouraging, but it is still too early to predict whether the epidemic will be contained.

The Chinese authorities have been making a brave face, saying that the economic impact of the virus would be limited and short-term. President Xi Jinping said China could meet its economic goals by 2020, the media reported.

Large manufacturing centers on the coast are beginning to loosen restrictions on the movement of people and traffic, while authorities press factories to return to work.

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