Virus cases on docked Japan cruise ship near 150

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Almost a quarter of the 623 crew members on a cruise ship docked in western Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said Saturday.

The Italy-flagged Costa Atlantica has no passengers aboard and arrived in the southern port of Nagasaki for repairs in January.

Its operator first notified of suspected virus infections last weekend.

All have now been tested with another 57 testing positive on Saturday, raising the number of cases to 148, a local official told reporters.

Further details, such as their nationalities or age, were not immediately available, the official said.

Some crew have been isolated in cabins but many also have to move around to maintain basic functions, the vessel's operator has told Japanese officials.

"Quite a lot of people were confirmed positive and our next challenge is how to build a medication system aboard for them," the official said.

Crew members are all non-Japanese except for one translator who is a Japanese national.

Local officials are working with the government in Tokyo to allow those who test negative to go home, while also attempting to arrange for the ship to leave the region if it is safe to do so.

So far, one member has been hospitalised, while others with relatively mild symptoms have remained on the ship.

Japan has already dealt with one virus outbreak on a —the Diamond Princess, which docked in Yokohama after a former passenger tested positive for the disease.

Authorities ordered an on-ship quarantine, but more than 700 people ultimately contracted the virus and 13 died.

© 2020 AFP

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