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Two former passengers of Japan virus cruise ship die

By AFP
February 21, 2020

TOKYO: Two elderly former passengers from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess died on Thursday, Japanese authorities said, as fears mounted for those who have left the ship after testing negative for the virus.

The news of the first deaths from the ship came as a further 13 positive tests were revealed, taking the total cases from the vessel to 634 -- easily the biggest coronavirus cluster outside mainland China, where the outbreak began.

The man and woman, both Japanese and in their 80s, were taken off the cruise ship last week and died in hospital. The man had pre-existing bronchial asthma and a history of angina treatment, the health ministry said in a statement, but the woman had no known conditions before the coronavirus infection.

The direct cause of her death was pneumonia. "I pray for their souls and offer condolences to their bereaved families," Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told MPs. "The two were sent to medical facilities when they showed symptoms. I believe that they received the best possible treatment."

On Wednesday, 443 passengers disembarked after testing negative for COVID-19 and not showing symptoms during a 14-day quarantine period. The removal of all passengers was expected to take at least three days. Nearly 250 more passengers left the ship on Thursday, packing into yellow buses and leaving for stations and airports to head home.