Officials to let some passengers on quarantined cruise move to housing on shore

Officials to let some passengers on quarantined cruise move to housing on shore
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Some passengers on a quarantined cruise ship docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama will be allowed to disembark early and move to housing ashore, even as another 44 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed on the vessel.

While all passengers on the Diamond Princess will have the option to remain on board through Feb. 19, when the quarantine is lifted, Japanese health officials will begin allowing some to disembark voluntarily, USA Today reported.

The elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions and the “most medically vulnerable” will be prioritized, the newspaper aded.

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Officials will reportedly test any guest wishing to disembark for coronavirus and transport any who test positive to local hospitals. Those who test negative will be taken to a quarantine housing facility.

Princess Cruises, the ship’s cruise line, will follow "guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases,” said Negin Kamali, the cruise line’s director of public relations.

The 44 new cases bring the total confirmed cases on board to 218. During the quarantine, "it was not unexpected that additional cases would be reported involving individuals who were exposed prior to the start of the quarantine,” Kamali added.

The cruise industry has taken numerous steps against the spread of the virus in recent weeks, with Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International cruise lines announcing Friday that they will bar passengers with Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passports. Royal Caribbean has also banned those who have visited or passed through airports in China within a two-week period before embarking.