At least ten passengers on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship currently sitting in the Yokohama Bay of South Tokyo have tested positive to coronavirus.
The ten people confirmed to have the virus have been taken to the hospital and authorities are waiting for the test results of other passengers, CNN reports.
According to a statement by the owner of the cruise ship, there are 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board the ship.
The ship has been held at the Japanese harbour since Tuesday, after the virus was detected in Hong-Kong from a man who had disembarked from the ship.
Though the ship remains under quarantine, attention is expected to turn to other vessels as ships have been noted for its tendency of inhibiting disease.
The planned 14-day cruise has been abandoned but passengers do not yet know when they will be able to disembark – leaving them unable to book flights home.
The quarantine and testing of passengers travelling from countries with confirmed cases has become necessary with continual increase in the number of confirmed cases and deaths recorded from the coronavirus.
As of Tuesday, Hong-Kong reported its first death from the disease. This is the second death reported from disease outside China. The first death was reported in the Philippines, a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, in Hubei province.
According to the Philippines Department of Health, the dead man had travelled to the country from Wuhan through Hong-Kong with a 38-year-old woman who also tested positive to the disease.
His death was confirmed shortly after the Philippines announced that it will halt the arrival of foreigners coming from China.
Meanwhile, in China where the disease originated from, the number of confirmed cases and deaths has continued to increase.
Most of the deaths in China have been reported from the mainland. As of Wednesday, death from the disease stood at 492, an increase of 67 from the previous day.
Also, the number of confirmed cases worldwide grew to 24,536, an increase of almost 4,000 (about 20 per cent).
While China still has the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths, the World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus said that the disease is not yet a global pandemic.
Mr Ghebreyesus said though the disease is of high risk, it has not yet gotten to a pandemic status.
WHO last week had declared the new coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency due to the increasing spread of the disease outside China.
About 24 countries have reported at least a confirmed case of the disease. However, any case of the disease is yet to be confirmed from Africa.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said there are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Africa.
She, however, recommended taking preventive actions while traveling.
She also said that WHO Africa is on high alert and will continue to support member states to build capacity to prepare and respond as surveillance remains a top priority.
While some countries like the US have imposed a ban on foreigners coming from China to enter the country, Mr Ghebreyesus said such actions are uncalled for.
Mr Ghebreyesus during the UN’s executive board meeting in Geneva on Tuesday called for caution and explained why the declaration was done.
“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have (the) effect of increasing fear and stigma, with public health benefits.
“Where such measures have been implemented, we urge that they are short in duration, proportionate to the public health risk and are reconsidered regularly as the situation evolves,” he said.