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Odishatv Bureau

Tokyo: Japan on Thursday confirmed that the number of people who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus on board a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Yokohama has increased to 218, after the emergence of over 44 fresh cases.

Some 218 COVID-19, the official name of the disease, cases have already been detected aboard the Princess Diamond cruise ship, on which 3,700 people have been quarantined since February 3 at the Yokohama port, south of Tokyo, after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the illness, reports Efe news.

In his daily press conference about the status of those on board, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the 44 new cases came from tests carried out on 221 people.

Counting the cases detected on land, Japan has already confirmed 247 cases of coronavirus under its jurisdiction, the largest number outside China, where the country's authorities said on Thursday that 59,539 have been infected.

The health ministry also announced its decision to authorize the disembarkation of those over 80 with underlying health problems and whose rooms lack windows.

Of the 2,666 passengers aboard the ship when the quarantine began (those who tested positive were already transferred to hospital centres), 226 are over 80.

The possibility that Japan allowed the disembarkation of elderly passengers had been considered for several days after medical experts said the stress generated by remaining in the ship for so long could aggravate their health.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday officially named the disease COVID-19, while the virus which causes it has been called SARS-CoV-2 (changed from its provisional name 2019-nCoV) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

The organization said, "CO" stands for "corona," "VI" for "virus, "D" for "disease" and "-19" for "2019" - as the outbreak was first detected December 31.


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