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4 Aussies among Japan cruise ship evacuees contract COVID-19

Sydney/Tokyo: Authorities confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday among Australians recently evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been quarantined in Japan after hundreds of cases were detected on board.

The four tested positive out of 17 evacuees after experiencing respiratory problems symptoms on arrival in Darwin, the country’s health ministry said in a statement.

This takes the total to six from the 164 Australians evacuated from the cruise ship, who were housed in a quarantine centre in the city, reports Efe news.

The Ministry said it was unlikely that infections would have occurred during the flight and added that the infected were in stable condition with moderate symptoms of the disease.

On the other hand, the authorities said strict mechanisms would be put in place to allow the return of some 760 Chinese secondary school students stuck in their own country because of travel restrictions in the wake of the outbreak.

“The decision was taken based on the best medical advice available and with the safety of Australians as the number one priority,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.

The measure, which will put students through a quarantine period, was approved in the face of a clear reduction in cases in China, although those from Hubei Province, the epidemic’s epicentre, will be excluded from it.

Meanwhile, several Japanese health ministry officials aboard the Diamond Princess, where 634 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, have not been tested for the virus and have returned to their jobs, the country’s state broadcaster NHK said on Saturday.

NHK said that about 90 officials who boarded the ship anchored in Yokohama were not subjected to any test before returning to their offices.

Four of the officials on board underwent tests after showing symptoms and were found to have been infected, according to prior reports.

Experts consulted by NHK believe that, although appropriate preventive measures had been taken, these officials should have been asked to work from home during the maximum incubation period, which is 14 days.

Apart from the 634 cases on the Diamond Princess, another 96 infections have been confirmed in Japan so far, bringing the total to 730, and making it the most affected country outside China.

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