Diamond Princess cruise “failed” quarantine and ship became floating incubator for the coronavirus

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The FINANCIAL – Diamond Princess coronavirus quarantine was not perfect as cruise ship went from having 10 cases of the novel coronavirus to more than 690. Poor hygiene practices helped spread the virus, also 23 passengers were let off Diamond Princess without additional coronavirus tests.

Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship got their first piece of bad news on February 4: 10 people on board had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Japan’s Ministry of Health reported on Monday that 691 people from the ship had contracted the virus, as well as one quarantine officer who worked on the ship. Dr. Amesh Adalja, who works at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and other experts have criticized the decision to keep passengers and crew on the ship and said poor hygiene practices helped spread the virus, Business Insider reported.

Everything began, when the captain came over the intercom: passenger who had left the ship nine days earlier had tested positive for the new coronavirus sweeping through China. In all, it took Japanese officials more than 72 hours to impose a lockdown after they were first notified about the case connected to the ship. The delay by the Japanese government, along with slapdash and ineffective containment measures during the two-week isolation period, would help turn the Diamond Princess into a floating epidemiological disaster, according to The New York Times.

For three days through Friday, 970 passengers who tested negative in tests after Feb. 5 were allowed to disembark the ship. The 23 passengers had been tested before Feb. 5, but results came back negative. Health minister Katsunobu Kato said the ministry found out that the 23 were not tested again after Feb. 5 after reviewing information about the passengers who disembarked. “We are deeply sorry. We will thoroughly make sure that this kind of mistake does not happen again,” said Kato. According to the health ministry 19 of the 23 were Japanese and the rest were foreign nationals, as reported by The Japan Times.

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The ship was not designed to be a hospital. The ship was a ship,” said Shigeru Omi, a former regional director for the World Health Organization. “Of course isolation was not ideal as would be expected from a hospital, so in my view, although the isolation was somehow effective, to a large extent it was not perfect.” Omi, a public health expert who heads the Japan Community Health Care Organization, said it was the best they could do. While some people criticized Japan for confining more than 3,700 passengers and crew on the ship in what they called a botched quarantine, he said it was not feasible to test and relocate all of them for quarantine elsewhere, FOX News wrote.

Since the ship’s quarantine ended on Feb. 19, passengers who have disembarked, most of them Japanese but including some foreigners, have been asked to stay at home and avoid public transport. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the quarantine had not been sufficient to halt contagion, Reuters reported.

A second Israeli has been diagnosed with the coronavirus after returning to the country from Japan, where he spent two weeks quarantined on a cruise ship where the disease had rapidly spread, the Health Ministry said Sunday. “The patient is in isolation and under observation,” the ministry said. The two were among 11 Israelis allowed off the Diamond Princess ship in Yokohama, Japan and flown home after initially testing negative. All were placed in isolation for a 14 day period at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Four Israelis contracted the disease while on the ship and are being treated in special medical centers in Japan. They are all said to be in a good condition. The remaining 11 arrived back in Israel on Friday morning, according to The Times of Israel.

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Meanwhile, a third passenger from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has died, authorities said Sunday. The latest victim, a Japanese man in his 80s, tested positive for the deadly flu-like illness while aboard ship and was among those taken off and hospitalized last week, New York Post reported.

It should be mentioned that, last two days of the Venice Carnival have been cancelled because of an outbreak of coronavirus. Three people in Venice have tested positive for the viral disease. The Middle East was also on high alert as Iran announced eight people had died from the virus. Read more.

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