Two Australians evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus after being flown home. And authorities in Canberra have added another week to a ban on foreign travelers arriving from mainland China, where the virus was first reported.
This week, 170 Australians were flown home after more than two weeks in quarantine on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. Two have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Officials are warning that more infections could emerge within the group over the next few days.
Dr. Dianne Stephens, from the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Center, says the two patients will be sent to hospitals near their homes.
“Those people remain well and mildly ill with coldlike symptoms and they do not necessarily need to be in the hospital system, but more than likely will enter the hospital system in their home states while they manage the COVID-19 quarantine and isolation procedures,” Stephens said.
The cruise ship passengers are being held in quarantine at a former workers’ camp near Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.
It is also accommodating a planeload of Australian evacuees from Wuhan, China, where the disease was first reported. Their two-week quarantine period ends this weekend.
Australia now has 17 confirmed cases of the disease, although more than 45 of its citizens remain on the Diamond Princess in Japan after contracting the virus while on the cruise ship, which has the largest cluster of confirmed cases outside of China.
Australia had not had a case of coronavirus since Feb. 1 when it barred entry to those arriving directly from mainland China. The restrictions have been extended until the end of the month.