Princess Cruises quarantines 3,700 after 10 passengers test positive

A small boat is pictured next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship with over 3,000 people as it sits anchored in quarantine off the port of Yokohama on February 4, 2020, a day after it arrived with passengers feeling ill.

Behrouz Mehri | AFP | Getty Images

Princess Cruises said it has placed 3,700 passengers and crew under mandatory quarantine for two weeks after ten passengers aboard a cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The company said Monday that a previous guest, who didn’t have any symptoms while aboard the ship, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday — six days after leaving the ship. The ship was being held in Japan for 24 hours while Japanese health authorities assessed the 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

“These 10 persons, who have been notified, will be taken ashore by Japanese Coast Guard watercraft and transported to local hospitals for care by shoreside Japanese medical professionals,” the company said.

The ship will be quarantined for at least 14 days, the company said, as is required by the Japanese Ministry of Health.

“The first phase of health screening of all guests and crew onboard Diamond Princess, by the Japanese Ministry of Health, has been completed,” the company said in a statement. “We were notified that amongst the samples that have completed testing, 10 people have tested positive for coronavirus.”

The company confirmed to CNBC that one of the passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess is from the United States. The other nine included two Australian guests, three Japanese guests, three guests from Hong Kong and one Filipino crewmember.

The company said it will continue to provide guests with complimentary internet and phone service. The ship will go out to sea to “perform normal marine operations,” the company said, such as “the production of fresh water and ballast operations before proceeding alongside in Yokohama where food, provisions, and other supplies will be brought onboard.”

Princess Cruises said it will cancel its next two cruises leaving from Yokohama, which were scheduled to depart on Feb. 4 and Feb. 12.

The new coronavirus has now infected more than 24,300 people in more than two dozen countries, killing 490 people in China as well as one person in the Philippines and one person in Hong Kong. Infectious disease specialists and scientists say the new coronavirus that’s shuttering companies across mainland China may be even more contagious than current data shows.

World health officials know the respiratory disease is capable of spreading through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing, and germs left on inanimate objects. The illness is cable of spreading before symptoms show, and about 20% of patients become severely ill, leading to pneumonia and respiratory failure, health officials say.

The World Health Organization declared the virus a global health emergency last week, a rare designation that helps the international agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak. Meanwhile, U.S. officials have declared the outbreak a public health emergency, implementing travel restrictions and mandatory federal quarantines.

For up-to-the-minute coverage on the coronavirus, visit the live blog from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific team.

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