Japan hits back at ‘chaotic’ cruise ship quarantine claims

Japan Thursday hit back at criticism over “chaotic” quarantine measures on the coronavirus-riddled Diamond Princess cruise ship, as fears of contagion mount with more passengers dispersing into the wider world.

The huge vessel moored in Yokohama near Tokyo is easily the biggest coronavirus cluster outside the Chinese epicentre, with 621 positive cases confirmed among the passengers and crew.

On Wednesday, 443 passengers disembarked from the ship after testing negative for the COVID-19 virus and not showing symptoms during a 14-day quarantine period. The complete removal of the passengers was expected to last at least three days.

More passengers left the ship on Thursday, packing into yellow buses and leaving for stations and airports for home.

But questions are increasingly being asked as to the wisdom of allowing former Diamond Princess passengers to roam freely around Japan’s notoriously crowded cities, even if they have tested negative.

“Is it really safe to get off?” screamed a headline in the Nikkan Sports tabloid.

The paper quoted a passenger who said he was tested on February 15 and left four days later.

“I thought I could be infected during the four days. I thought ‘Is it really ok’?” 

The Diamond Princess was placed into quarantine on February 5 when a passenger who left in Hong Kong was found infected with the virus.

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