ambulances in front of the Diamond Princess
The government says it will discuss with Japan the early disembarkation of South Korean nationals from a cruise ship under quarantine due to the new coronavirus.
The rapid increase of coronavirus infections on the Diamond Princess, which his anchored off Yokohama, has sparked concern that putting the passengers in isolation until the incubation period ends will only worsen the situation.
Sehhyeong Kim reports.
Kim Gang-lip, deputy head of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, said in a press conference today that Seoul officials have spoken with the Korean passengers over the phone on whether they want to get off the cruise ship.
Fourteen Koreans are said to be on board - nine passengers and five crew members.
Kim noted that the passengers, most of who live in Japan, have not expressed their intention to return to South Korea.
However, he stressed that officials from Seoul will provide supplies, including medical aid, as well as focus on ensuring their safety.
Japan initially planned to place the passengers under quarantine on the vessel until February 19, when the 14-day incubation period for the new coronavirus ends.
However, the faster than expected spread of the virus has prompted concern over the health conditions of the passengers on the vessel.
Meanwhile, Japan has begun allowing elderly passengers who test negative for the virus to leave the ship and finish their isolation in government-designated lodging.
Tokyo has given passengers aged 80 or older in poor health or confined to windowless inner cabins on the Diamond Princess the chance to get off the vessel.
Sehhyeong Kim, eFM News.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>
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