• 2 people who were on quarantined cruise ship in Japan have died
• Quarantine on Diamond Princess cruise ship ‘chaotic,’ Japanese expert claims
• Number of new confirmed cases drops in Hubei province
• South Korea confirms first death of person infected with coronavirus
• Two people die in Iran after contracting coronavirus
• Thousands of Americans voluntarily self-quarantine after returning from China
2 former passengers on quarantined cruise ship in Japan have died
Two people diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, who were at one point on board a quarantined cruise ship have died, Japan’s health minister said in parliament Thursday.
The deaths appear to be the first involving cases from the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined off Yokohama with around 3,700 passengers and crew after a one-time passenger later tested positive for the virus.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato offered his condolences to the family of the couple, who were both were Japanese nationals — a man and woman in their 80s.
The man was taken off the cruise ship on Feb. 11 and the woman was taken off on Feb. 12 after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The health ministry has also confirmed that two government officials who performed administrative duties on the cruise ship have tested positive for the virus.
The number of diagnosed cases from the Diamond Princess has grown as rounds of testing have been completed, with at least 621 reported as of Wednesday.
People were quarantined on the cruise ship for around two weeks, and those who have tested negative have begun to leave the ship.
Princess Cruises, the operator of the Diamond Princess, said Thursday that around 600 passengers had been cleared by the Japanese health ministry to disembark on Wednesday, and several hundred others were expected to be cleared Thursday.
The two deaths linked to the Diamond Princess brings the number of people who have died in Japan to three. The other death was not connected to the cruise ship. — Olivier Fabre and Phil Helsel
Coronavirus quarantine on Diamond Princess cruise ship ‘chaotic,’ Japanese expert claims
The novel coronavirus quarantine measures put in place by Japanese officials on board a cruise ship where thousands of people have been kept in isolation were “completely chaotic,” an infectious disease specialist who visited the vessel has claimed.
In two YouTube videos, one in English and one in Japanese, Kentaro Iwata, a professor at Kobe University Hospital in the central Japanese city of Kobe, criticized the situation on the Diamond Princess.
“Everybody could have the virus,” he said, adding, “The cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of the infection control.” — Matthew Mulligan and Yuliya Talmazan
Number of new confirmed cases drops in Hubei province after diagnostic change
Health officials in Hubei province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, recorded a big drop in the number of new confirmed cases Wednesday.
Over the last 24 hours there were 349 new confirmed cases, down from 1,693 a day earlier.
However the number of deaths in Hubei jumped to 2,029, up by 108 the previous day.
On Wednesday, China’s health authority released the sixth edition of it`s diagnostic criteria for the coronavirus, removing a category of cases diagnosed clinically, such as through chest x-rays, in Hubei.
The Hubei health commission did not say in its statement if the sharp drop in the province’s new confirmed cases on Wednesday was due to the change.
Last week, the province tweaked its diagnostic methodology to include clinically confirmed cases, resulting in a massive spike in new confirmed cases.
Meanwhile, nationwide, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak climbed to 2,118 as of Wednesday. It surpassed 2,000 the day before. The total number of confirmed cases rose to 74,576. — Leou Chen, Dawn Liu and Reuters
South Korea confirms first coronavirus death
South Korea has reported its first death of a person infected with coronavirus as well as 22 new cases, bringing the nation’s total to 104.
The exact cause of death is being investigated, the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the mayor of a large South Korean city told residents to stay indoors Thursday as a surge in confirmed cases linked to a local church raised the prospect of wider transmission.
Malls, restaurants and streets in Daegu, the country’s fourth largest city with a population of 2.5 million, were largely empty in scenes that local social media users likened to a disaster movie.
The cases in the city have been traced to an infected person who attended a local church, a scenario that KCDC described as a “super-spreading event.”
The mayor cautioned that at least 90 more of the around 1,000 other people who attended services at the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony were also showing symptoms. — Nayeong Kim and Reuters
Two people die after contracting coronavirus in Iran
Iran has recorded its first two deaths linked to the coronavirus outbreak, an adviser to the country’s minister of health told Mehr news agency Wednesday.
Alireza Vahabzadeh said the two people died in hospital due to age, respiratory illness and immune deficiency.
Six other people and families of the two dead have also been put under quarantine as schools and universities in the city of Qom closed their doors to stop the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, thee more patients were confirmed to have the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to five, according to the head of health ministry’s public relations office. — Amin Hossein Khodadadi
Thousands of Americans voluntarily self-quarantine after returning from China
Thousands of travelers who have returned to the United States after recent trips to China are spending nearly half a month behind closed doors under voluntary self-quarantine, even though they do not pose any immediate coronavirus-related health risk to others and are showing no symptoms.
Instead, they simply traveled in China within the past few weeks and have since been flagged by health officials at one of the 11 airports nationwide through which all U.S. citizens and their families flying from China are being routed.
And now they’re being asked to stay home for 14 days — the maximum amount of time it’s thought to take to develop the illness after being exposed — limiting physical contact with others as much as possible and watching for symptoms. — Erika Edwards