Topline: Japanese officials confirmed that 88 new cases of the pneumonia-like virus were recorded on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that has been quarantined in a Japanese port since the start of the month, and has become the largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside China.
- Japan’s health ministry reported the spike in numbers, adding that 65 of the new cases to test positive for the virus were not reporting any symptoms.
- That takes the total number of infections onboard to 542, and swells the number of cases in Japan to 611.
- Those onboard who tested positive for the virus include a British couple, David and Sally Abel, who have filmed their experience. David later said on Facebook that he thought the couple were being sent to a hostel, not a hospital.
- The incubation period of the virus, which has been officially named Covid-19, is at least 14 days, meaning individuals who are ill could pass it on without being aware they are infected.
- Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, said that Japanese passengers and crew who test negative for the virus will be allowed to disembark from Wednesday, the Japan Times reported.
- Some 328 U.S. citizens—including 14 who tested positive—have been repatriated, with two separate planes landed in Texas and California on Tuesday. Passengers will be quarantined at military facilities for 14 days. Thirteen were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Centre for further tests.
- Australia, Israel, Hong Kong, South Korea and Canada have plans to evacuate their citizens from the Diamond Princess. Britain’s government has said it is considering organizing a flight after it faced mounting pressure, including from the Abels, for a response.
- Japan announced plans on February 18 to use HIV medication to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.
Key background: The Carnival-owned Diamond Princess cruise has been under quarantine in Yokohama, near Tokyo since February 3, after one of its passengers, an 80-year-old man who disembarked in Hong Kong, tested positive for the virus.
Dozens of the 3,700 passengers and crew have been reported ill with the virus each day since, and taken to hospital for treatment. Japan’s decision to keep the passengers and crew confined aboard the cruise ship has been criticised with experts arguing that an onshore quarantine would reduce the likelihood of the virus being transmitted. The coronavirus has impacted the cruise industry, with several ports around Asia, including in Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, refusing to allow cruise ships to dock, even if no cases of the virus have been reported aboard.
Big number: More than 72,000 people have been infected with the virus globally, while more than 1,800 have died. Around 12,500 in China have recovered and been released from hospital, health officials said. More than 1,800 new infections were reported on Tuesday.
Tangent: The director of a hospital in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people which is at the centre of the outbreak, died on Tuesday. Neurosurgeon Liu Zhiming “made important contributions to the prevention and control” of the disease in the city, the Wuhan health commissions said.
Further reading: Apple Withdraws Its March Quarter Revenue Guidance Due To The Coronavirus (Chuck Jones)