Two passengers who were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship after contracting the novel coronavirus have died, Japanese authorities announced.
The two passengers, both Japanese, were an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, the Japanese news organization NHK reported. They had previously been removed from the ship last week and were hospitalized before their deaths.
The first reported deaths of quarantined passengers comes just hours after a Japanese expert in infectious diseases removed YouTube videos in which he criticized the response of the coronavirus outbreak aboard the docked vessel in Yokohama. Within 24 hours he had deleted the controversial video.
In a Twitter post on Thursday morning, Kentaro Iwata, a professor at Kobe University Hospital, said, “I removed my YouTube clip myself since there is no need for further discussing this. Thank you and I apologize to those who got involved in."
Iwata, a veteran of 20 years in the infectious disease space, published videos that explicitly criticized Diamond Princess and its handling of the quarantine.
“The cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of infection control,” he said. “There was no distinction between the green zone, which is free of infection, and the red zone, which is potentially contaminated by the virus.”
The total number of infected passengers has risen to 621, even as hundreds of passengers disembark following the end of a 14-day quarantine which failed to stop the spread of the virus among passengers and crew.
More than 75,000 have been infected with the virus and more than 2,000 have died, with the vast majority of both coming in China.