Japan confirms 70 new cases of COVID-19 from Diamond Princess cruise ship

Seventy new cases of the COVID-19 from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship presently quarantined in Yokohama have been confirmed, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato announced Sunday morning during a news program on public broadcaster NHK.

The additional cases take the total number of confirmed infections aboard the vessel to a total of 355.

With global attention increasingly focused on the situation on the cruise ship, the U.S. Embassy sent a letter Saturday to Americans on the ship saying that a chartered aircraft will arrive in Japan on Sunday evening and buses will pick up the passengers and their belongings and take them to the airport.

The U.S. aircraft is set to depart from Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Monday, according to Japanese officials

Japan will also cooperate with other countries that make similar arrangements to evacuate their citizens on the ship, Japanese government officials said.

More than a week has passed since the cruise ship, now with around 3,400 passengers and crew aboard, was put under a two-week quarantine at Yokohama port after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected with COVID-19, the pneumonia-causing coronavirus.

Japan’s health ministry had initially planned to keep all of the passengers and crew confined on the vessel until Wednesday, when the quarantine is scheduled to end.

But the ministry decided last Thursday to let passengers 80 and older, as well as their traveling companions, leave before the end of the quarantine after they were screened for infection. Those with pre-existing conditions or who were staying in cabins without windows were prioritized for disembarkation.

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