Passengers leave Japan virus ship as China toll tops 2,000 - International | NTV

Passengers leave Japan virus ship as China toll tops 2,000

Wednesday February 19, 2020


Relieved passengers began leaving a coronavirus-wracked cruise ship in Japan on Wednesday after testing negative for the disease that has now claimed more than 2,000 lives in China.

The Diamond Princess has proved a fertile breeding ground for the virus with at least 542 positive cases, and Japan has faced mounting criticism for its quarantine arrangements as the passengers disperse.

"I'm relieved... I want to take a good rest," a 77-year-old Japanese passenger, who declined to give his name. He said he would be boarding Japan's famously crowded railway system to go home.

Yellow-dotted city buses, plus a dozen or so taxis, were lined up to whisk the passengers into the wider world, many of them dragging their luggage behind them.

Some of the passengers waved as they left to those still on board the ship, some of whom could be seen waving back from balconies.

The ship is the biggest cluster outside China, where new figures showed the death toll surging beyond 2,000 with more than 74,000 infected. Hundreds more cases have been reported in two dozen countries.

South Korea reported 15 new confirmed cases -- increasing its total by nearly 50 percent including a cluster of at least 11 centred on the southern city of Daegu.

For the 500 passengers allowed to disembark after testing negative, a difficult 14-day quarantine period has come to an end after their dream cruise turned into a nightmare of fear and crushing boredom confined in many cases to small windowless cabins.

"NEGATIVE! Me, son, husband, mom and dad! Thank you Lord for protecting us... So emotional now," tweeted passenger Yardley Wong, who has been cooped up with her six-year-old son.