Two patients with the new coronavirus from the quarantined liner in Japan have died, Japanese media reported on Thursday.
An octogenarian woman and man who had been contaminated are dead, NHK public television and other media reported.
Confirmation of this information by the Ministry of Health could not be obtained immediately. It is believed to be the first fatal case among the more than 600 confirmed carriers of the virus on the cruise ship.
The two eighty-year-olds suffered from pre-existing conditions and were evacuated from the boat on February 11 and 12, NHK said.
Tokyo had announced in the evening of Wednesday 79 new carriers of the coronavirus on board, which brings the total number of cases listed on the Diamond princess at 621, making this cruise ship docked in the port of Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo, the largest focus of the virus outside of China.
On Wednesday, 443 passengers disembarked. The evacuation of all passengers should take at least three days. The symptomless cruise lines who tested negative and had no contact with people with the virus disembarked throughout the day after 14 days of quarantine.
” I am relieved […] I want to rest, ”said a 77-year-old Japanese man to journalists.
Those authorized to go out received an official certificate stating that they presented “no risk of infection with the new coronavirus”, nor symptoms at the time of the inspection.
The dozens of new cases seen on board each day raised questions about the effectiveness of quarantine during which passengers were allowed to walk in small groups on the deck with masks, while flight attendants went from cabin in cabin to distribute meals.
Some in Japan are concerned that passengers on the ship may be scattered in the wild or departing for their respective countries.
Decline of the epidemic
The new cases of contamination with the coronavirus announced by the authorities in China however decreased Thursday, and the World Health Organization hailed the “enormous progress” to curb the epidemic whose toll exceeds 2 100 deaths, with more 74,500 people infected.
“We have made huge progress in a short time,” said director of emergency measures in the eastern Mediterranean, Richard Brennan, at a press conference with the WHO regional office in Egypt.
“We can diagnose the virus everywhere now” and “effective health systems” have been put in place, said his side, WHO regional director Ahmed al-Mandhari. However, it is “too early to say that the virus has been contained,” said Dr. Brennan.
This optimism has won the main world stock exchanges, which ended up on Wednesday. “I don’t think coronavirus is still an important topic. We see that the number of new cases is decreasing. The worst is probably over, “said analyst Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors.
A total of 108 additional deaths were reported Thursday in Hubei province, where the Covid-19 epidemic started in December.
But only 615 new cases of contamination were recorded, down sharply from the 1,693 reported on Wednesday, according to the provincial health authorities, who also revised downwards, without specifying why, the number of cases declared on days precedents.
Several countries, including the United Kingdom, have decided to send planes to repatriate their nationals without further delay. As for the crew, they will start to quarantine once the last passenger has left.
Concerns over the virus are also affecting Russia, where no Chinese national can enter from Thursday, the culmination of health measures taken against the epidemic, despite the economic cost to tourism and border regions.
Officially, Russia has had no more patients with the new coronavirus on its territory since the discharge from hospital last week of the only two patients, Chinese nationals. Moscow had already closed its approximately 4,250 km of borders with China, cut passenger rail links and restricted the number of flights to Chinese cities.
In Ukraine, dozens of people protested on Wednesday against the scheduled arrival in the country on Thursday of a plane carrying 48 Ukrainians and 29 third-country nationals from Wuhan. Protesters blocked a road to a hospital in Vynnyky, in the west of the country.
France, for its part, sent a new plane to Wuhan in order to repatriate “a few dozen” of its nationals, announced the Ministry of Health.
The semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong saw a second death, and Iran announced two deaths.