Australia has announced two new cases of people with coronavirus. The problem is that these two people were among the passengers authorized to leave the Diamond Princess after being tested as negative by the Japanese authorities. “We have two people who are positive for the Covid-19 disease virus. These two people have symptoms of moderate severity,” said Dianne Stephens, Acting Health Manager for the Northern Territory, a large territorial subdivision located in central and northern Australia.
This development is likely to raise questions about the procedures used by the Japanese authorities concerning the occupants of the Diamond Princess, docked in the port of Yokohama and which is the most important source of the virus outside China. Hundreds of people have been allowed to leave the ship after being tested negative for the disease, and many have returned to their respective countries to be quarantined again.
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“Such cases were expected”
Earlier this week, 164 Australians on board were cleared by Japanese authorities to depart for northern Australia. But hundreds of Japanese passengers were allowed to leave and were only instructed to “stay at home unless absolutely necessary” to get out, “never” to use public transport and to wear a face mask if they get out .
A total of six Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess were re-tested in Australia on Friday and two of them – described as “an older person” and “a younger person” – tested positive. The main Australian medical official, Professor Brendan Murphy, said, however, that the people of Australia should not be worried. “I want to reassure the public: although these are two new cases in Australia, this is a first for some time,” said Professor Murphy. “Such cases were expected and we are well able to deal with them.”
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Two deceased Japanese passengers
Fifteen previous cases of coronavirus infection in Australia have been linked to the epidemic that started in December in China. Brendan Murphy said he was confident that Japan and South Korea – where the number of infections nearly doubled to 104 on Thursday – would be able to contain the disease. “Japan and South Korea have well-developed health systems,” he said. In Japan, two coronavirus carriers, two octogenarians who were on board the Diamond Princess, died in hospital, the Japanese Ministry of Health announced on Thursday.
These are the first deaths observed among confirmed carriers of the virus having been on the cruise ship, 634 after the announcement of 13 new cases by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Wednesday, 443 passengers declared healthy disembarked from the liner, and nearly 250 Thursday. The evacuation of all travelers should take at least three days. The results of examinations for several hundred others are still awaited.