Dozens allowed off Japan virus-hit ship have ‘symptoms’: Minister

TOKYO (AFP) – Dozens of passengers allowed off a coronavirus-stricken ship developed symptoms including fever and will be asked to take tests for the virus, Japan’s Health Minister said yesterday.

The news came as another death linked to the virus in Japan was reported and the government urged organisers of major events in the next fortnight to consider cancelling or downsizing them to help curb the spread of infections.

The government contacted 813 former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship and found “45 people had certain symptoms”, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told Parliament.

“We asked all of them (who have symptoms) to see a doctor and to take tests.”

Around 970 people were allowed off the boat last week after testing negative for the virus, but several have subsequently been diagnosed with the illness.

Japan has come under increasing pressure over its handling of the crisis on the vessel. Those allowed off the ship after a 14-day quarantine were asked to stay inside, but no formal measures restricting their movement were imposed.

Opposition lawmakers blamed the government for failing to implement a fresh 14-day quarantine after the passengers left the cruise ship – as was required by countries that repatriated citizens from the boat.