Several Indian crew members and passengers onboard a cruise ship ‘Diamond Princess’ have been quarantined off the coast of Japan because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
According to AFP, out of a total of 3,711 people onboard, 130 people have been infected. At the moment, it is not known if any Indians have been infected. The Times of India reported that there are 132 Indian crew members and six Indian passengers onboard.
In a video uploaded last Thursday, an Indian crew member aboard the ship, Binay Sarkar, says that over 200 Indian crew out of a total of 1,045 are onboard, but no one is affected. In the video, Sarkar pleaded for help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be rescued.
The New Indian Express reported that after the video, members from the Indian Embassy in Japan met Sarkar and assured him of help.
In a tweet earlier, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, "Many Indian crew & some Indian passengers are onboard the cruise ship #DiamondPrincess quarantined off Japan due to #Coronavirus. None have tested positive, as per the latest information provided by our Embassy @IndianEmbTokyo. We are closely following the developments."
Japan's Health Ministry had earlier confirmed that the 64 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus onboard the Diamond Princess ship off the coast of Yokohama, reported Al Jazeera. Out of these 64, 28 are from Japan, 11 are from the USA, seven each from Australia and Canada, three from China and one each from the UK, New Zealand, Taiwan, Philippines and Argentina according to the authorities.
There are over 1,000 crew members and people from 56 countries are onboard. The ship arrived off Japan's coast and docked in Yokohama on February 6.
This ship has been quarantined till February 19. It is being quarantined for a period of 14 days, which is the incubation period of the viral infection. The ship quarantine soon after returned after a passenger who left the cruise in Hong Kong was confirmed to have the virus.
The first person to test positive was a man from Hong Kong in his 80s. The ship sailed on January 20 from Yokohama and went through Okinawa and Kagoshima in southwest Japan.
It is one of the largest clusters of coronavirus cases outside of China. The Japanese government has sent an army crew to the ship. Reports emerged on Sunday that more than 800 people have died due to the coronavirus, surpassing the death toll of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003.
Testing was initially carried out on those who displayed symptoms or had come into close contact with the former passenger diagnosed.
Passengers on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins to prevent new infections and expressed confusion and frustration.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called on Tokyo to provide sufficient support, including mental care, for the passengers and patients.
"There's a lot to do to support those patients. Not just from the point of view of their physical health but from a mental health perspective," Michael Ryan, head of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
With agency inputs