U.S. to evacuate its citizens from virus-hit cruise ship in Yokohama: report

The U.S. State Department will evacuate American citizens and their families aboard a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

About 380 people aboard the Diamond Princess will be offered seats on two evacuation flights from Japan back to the United States, the newspaper said, citing an official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The move comes after Japan confirmed a rising number of COVID-19 cases from people with no direct connections to China. New cases were reported in Tokyo, Aichi, Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures on Friday.

As of Friday night, a total of 259 cases — 218 of which were passengers and crew members from the Diamond Princess — of the new coronavirus infection had been confirmed in the country.

No new cases were reported as of Saturday morning.

The latest cases in Tokyo and Hokkaido involved people with no recent travel history to China and came on the heels of the first domestic coronavirus death — that of a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa Prefecture, whose son-in-law, a taxi driver, was also found to be infected with the virus.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said two additional people in the capital who have tested positive for the virus had been in close contact with the taxi driver, with both hospitalized but not in serious condition.

Among them, one was a worker on a traditional yakatabune (roofed party boat) on which the taxi driver attended a party held Jan. 18 with his wife, while the other did not attend the party but is a staffer of a taxi union the driver belongs to, the Tokyo government said.

The boat worker had also previously come into contact with travelers from China’s Hubei province, it said.

The government will carry out tests on some 100 people, including around 80 party attendees, who came into close contact with the taxi driver. Around 10 have so far complained of a fever and other symptoms, it said.

Health minister Katsunobu Kato said Friday there is “no reason for changing the government position that it has yet to reach a state of epidemic in Japan.”

A Hokkaido resident in his 50s with no recent history of traveling abroad has also been infected, the Hokkaido government said. The man is being treated at a hospital where he remains in serious condition.

In Nagoya, a man in his 60s who recently returned from a trip to Hawaii tested positive for the coronavirus, the city government said. He has not visited China recently.

The route of contraction is also not known in cases reported Thursday in Wakayama Prefecture.

A man in his 70s who was treated at a hospital in Wakayama where a doctor was confirmed to have been infected with the virus has also tested positive for it, local officials said Friday, adding that the two apparently never had any contact.

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