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251 Canadians aboard quarantined cruise ship near Japan as new virus continues to spread

Last Updated Feb 5, 2020 at 12:10 pm PDT


251 Canadians are among those aboard a cruise ship caught up in the novel coronavirus global health emergency

10 people aboard the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the novel coronavirus; none of them are Canadian

People aboard the ship who haven't tested positive for the new virus will stay on the boat in quarantine for two weeks

TOKYO (NEWS 1130) – Princess Cruises has confirmed 251 Canadians are among those aboard a cruise ship that is being quarantined near Japan.

After a health screening was conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, 10 people on the Diamond Princess tested positive for novel coronavirus. None of the infected guests are Canadian, according to Princess Cruises, which operates the ship.

People infected with the new virus were led by gloved and masked officials Wednesday off the ship.

There are 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew in total on the Diamond Princess and all those who haven’t tested positive for the virus will remain under quarantine for 14 days in Yokohama. In a statement, Princess Cruises said it would fully cooperate with global medical authorities and the Japanese government. It added the next two Diamond Princess cruises departing Yokohama on Feb. 4 and Feb have been cancelled.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, more than 3,600 people on another cruise ship were being screened after it was banned by Taiwan amid growing worry about the spread of an outbreak. The territory’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, also announced two terminals — including the terminal where the cruise ship is currently quarantined — would be shut down.

Both ships are caught up in the global health emergency that seems to worsen by the day.

The little-understood strain of coronavirus has killed nearly 500 people, mostly in mainland China, but it has also spread panic and anger around the world as the cases grow.

As thousands of hospital workers in Hong Kong went on strike to demand the border with mainland China be closed completely, the city announced all people entering from the mainland, including Hong Kong residents, must be quarantined for 14 days.

Hospitals said they had to cut some services due to striking workers’ absences.

In Tokyo, Olympics organizers said they were increasingly worried about the disruption the virus has caused ahead of the games, which open in less than six months.

Canadians in Wuhan wait

In Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus that’s infected thousands of people so far, hundreds of Canadians are anxiously waiting at the airport to find out if they’ll be able to board a chartered flight out of China back to Canada. The flight was scheduled to leave early Thursday morning, but has since been delayed due to what an email from the government called circumstances beyond its control.

More than 300 Canadians have asked the federal government for help in leaving the country amid the outbreak, as life has become very difficult during the mass quarantine. However, not everyone will have the chance to leave right away.

The chartered plane only has space for about 250 people, and the Chinese government has restricted who is allowed to board the flight when it’s given authorization to leave.

Currently, the Canadian government has managed to negotiate terms by which only Canadian passport holders, and permanent residents — even possibly Chinese nationals — who are primary caregivers to children are permitted to be repatriated.