Passengers are leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship as the 14-day quarantine imposed over coronavirus has been lifted, the NHK broadcaster reported on Wednesday.
An elderly woman was the first to leave the ship. In total, around 500 people who are not infected are expected to disembark. 542 passengers tested positive for coronavirus, while 254 of them did not show any symptoms during the testing.
Earlier, Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato said that people who tested negative for the virus could leave the ship beginning on Wednesday after all test results had been checked.
自衛隊は、「ダイヤモンド・プリンセス号」内で薬剤の仕分け等を実施していますが、その作業スペースに乗客・乗員の方や船内で診療・消毒作業等の作業に当たっている隊員が入ることはありません。ただし、その際にもサージカルマスクと手袋を着用し作業しております。 pic.twitter.com/qNAlBzUNvs— 防衛省・自衛隊 (@ModJapan_jp) February 18, 2020
The cruise ship had been under quarantine since 3 February, after a passenger who left the vessel in Hong Kong tested positive for the new coronavirus.
As of Monday, around 3,200 passengers remained on board due to the outbreak. There were initially over 3,700 passengers aboard, those infected had been transported to local medical institutions.
Out of more than 400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Japan, over 350 has been registered on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
An outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus, which the WHO named COVID-19, was first registered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province, last December.