TOKYO, Febraury 18. /TASS/. Passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who did not contract the novel coronavirus during an outbreak on board, will be allowed to leave the ship starting from February 19, Japanese Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday.
"We expect that passengers, whose tests were negative, will start leaving the ship on February 19. All of them are expected to leave the vessel by [February 21]," he said.
Some 3,700 people from 50 countries, including Russia, were on board the cruise ship when it left Yokohama on January 20 and returned on February 3. Among them was a coronavirus-infected Chinese citizen who left the ship on January 25 in Hong Kong. In accordance with the decision made by the Japanese authorities, the ship was anchored near Yokohama and quarantined for two weeks.
By Monday, the overall number of novel coronavirus cases on board reached 454, making it the biggest outbreak of the disease outside China. Among them is a female passenger from Russia, who became the first confirmed coronavirus patient with Russian citizenship.
In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the WHO about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Coronavirus cases have also been reported in 25 other countries, including Russia. The WHO declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global health emergency and named the virus COVID-19. According to the latest data, the overall number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in China stands at about 72,400, with almost 1,900 deaths. About 12,500 patients have recovered to date.