Another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan including one quarantine official, bringing the total number of people infected on board to 175.
The health ministry announced Wednesday that the toll of coronavirus-infected passengers has risen yet again and at least 24 Americans are among the diagnosed.
The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on February 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong, was diagnosed with the virus, despite not showing any symptoms on board.
About 3,700 people are aboard the ship, which usually has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.
Kyodo news agency, citing the health ministry, said that of the 39 cases, 10 were crew, 10 were Japanese nationals and the others were from 11 countries including the United States and China.
Four were in serious condition, media said, quoting Health Minister Katsunobu Kato.
The ministry said tests are being conducted for others who are deemed to need them and it will announce the results later.
The UK-flagged Diamond Princess is managed by Princess Cruise Lines, one of the world’s largest cruise lines and a unit of Carnival Corp.
The government was considering allowing elderly and those with chronic illnesses to disembark before the February 19 target date for ending the quarantine, some media reported, but added it would take time to figure out where they could be sent.
As of last week, about 80% of the passengers were aged 60 or over, with 215 in their 80s and 11 in the 90s, the English-language Japan Times newspaper reported.
As of Monday the death toll for the novel coronavirus, temporarily dubbed 2019-nCoV, surpassed 1,000 on Monday, with at least 42,500 confirmed cases in 24 countries.
On Monday alone China reported 103 deaths in the Hubei province – the highest toll recorded in any one 24-hour period since the outbreak began in December. Wuhan, the focal point of the disease, is located within the Hubei province.