Japan Minister Apologises For Letting 23 People Leave Infected Cruise Ship Without Testing for COVID-19

The Diamond Princess has been the focus ever since the Covid-19 outbreak onboard the cruise ship.

Two passengers from the cruise ship died to Covid-19 and there were more than 620 infections reported.

That’s 16.7% of the entire ship’s population, which has 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members.

With that, you would think that offboarding these passengers requires the utmost care, ensuring that no one brings the Covid-19 back into their country.

Unfortunately, Japan did just that.

23 Passengers Allowed Back Into Japan Without Proper Tests

On 23 Feb, Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato apologised for their “operational mistake”.

A Japanese woman who disembarked from the cruise ship previously tested positive for Covid-19 after reaching her home at Tochigi Prefecture.

She was the first one to be tested positive out of 970 passengers who have left the ship.

In his official apology, the health minister revealed that 23 people were allowed to leave without going through all the required tests.

Meanwhile, 6 Australian passengers, 18 repatriated Americans and 1 Israeli were tested positive after returning home.

Criticised For Ship Quarantine’s Effectiveness

The entire ship was kept on quarantine, which ended on 19 Feb 2020.

However, it was revealed that the quarantine and measures taken were inadequate.

A professor at the infectious diseases division of Japan’s Kobe University visited the ship and made these observations:

  • Passengers and crew members are moving freely between the green zone, which is supposedly infection-free, and the virus-hit red zone
  • People eating together and sharing living quarters
  • A failure to wear protective clothing, including among medical staff
  • No professional infection control specialist on board

He has uploaded a YouTube video but deleted it shortly.

It was added that even though the passengers were confined to their cabin since 5 Feb, crew members who are responsible for bringing food and other amenities to passengers in their cabins can bring the virus to them.

We Have No Choice

Japan defended its choice to put the entire ship on quarantine instead of bringing everybody into a government facility to be isolated.

They don’t have a medical facility big enough to accommodate 3,000 people at one go.

Meanwhile, a 14-day quarantine period will start for the more than 1,000 crew members who were still on the cruise ship.

They were not isolated during the previous quarantine as they were needed to keep the ship running.

Japan’s Covid-19

Japan’s number of confirmed cases has risen up to 105 cases and the Japanese people are on edge.

A Japanese man pressed the emergency stop button on the train because someone had coughed without wearing a mask beside him.

A video also showed how Japanese people are panic buying surgical masks at a healthcare store.


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