Coronavirus cases on Japan cruise ship rise to 355, minister says
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Coronavirus cases on Japan cruise ship rise to 355, minister says

As US prepares to evacuate its citizens from the Diamond Princess, relatives of Israelis on board hope they’ll soon be allowed to leave

A passenger is seen on a balcony of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 14, 2020. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
A passenger is seen on a balcony of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 14, 2020. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

The number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus on a quarantined ship off Japan’s coast has risen to 355, the country’s health minister said Sunday.

“So far, we have conducted tests for 1,219 individuals. Of those, 355 people tested positive. Of those, 73 individuals are not showing symptoms,” Katsunobu Kato told a roundtable discussion on public broadcaster NHK — a rise of 70 from the last government toll.

The new figures came as the United States was preparing to evacuate some of its citizens from the Diamond Princess, which has been in quarantine since February 5 in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Hong Kong also said it would offer its 330 citizens on board the chance to take a charter flight back.

“Based on the high number of COVID-19 cases identified onboard the Diamond Princess, the Department of Health and Human Services made an assessment that passengers and crew members onboard are at high risk of exposure,” the US embassy said in a letter to its passengers.

Israel has unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate the release of the Israelis on board the ship.

“The message from the Americans reinforces our feelings along with those of our relatives on the ship, that the quarantine on the boat is irrelevant, ineffective and dangerous,” Yoni Levy, whose mother and sister are aboard the Diamond Princess, told the Ynet news site on Saturday. “We hope that the Americans’ action will promote the release of Israelis to isolation in Israel.”

According to the news outlet, the Israeli embassy in Tokyo updated the 15 Israeli passengers on board the cruise ship that Japanese authorities aim to evacuate all passengers from the ship by late Thursday.

The overall death toll from China’s coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,665 on Sunday after 142 more people died, although the number of new cases dropped for a third consecutive day.

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