12 Canadians on cruise ship, Diamond Princess infected with novel coronavirus
Canada's foreign minister says 12 Canadian cruise ship passengers have tested positive.
Japanese authorities might soon allow people quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship near Tokyo, where 12 Canadians have contracted the novel coronavirus, to disembark and finish out their isolation on land.
The 3,500 passengers on the ship have been under quarantine since last week, and so far 218 have tested positive for the disease, COVID-19.
It's the biggest concentration of confirmed cases outside of mainland China, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Outside cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, we are not seeing dramatic increases in cases outside China," Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's health emergencies program, told a news briefing in Geneva. A further 44 cases were reported on the Diamond Princess on Thursday, raising the total to 219.
The 12 Canadians who contracted the virus on board the ship have been moved to Japanese health facilities, and at least three require hospitalization, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters while travelling with the prime minister in Senegal on a diplomatic trip.
Champagne said emergency response teams and consular officials are in Japan to make sure Canadians are receiving the help they need.
"We know that there are some people who need medications on board, they want to have contact with their families. We're facilitating that," Champagne said.
Canada has also dispatched health officials to Japan to co-ordinate with local public health authorities.
Japan plans to move passengers who wish to leave the ship in phases, with the most "medically vulnerable" guests being moved in the first phase, according to Princess Cruises, the line that owns the Diamond Princess.
About 400 Canadians quarantined in Trenton
As for Canadians still in the centre of the viral outbreak, Champagne said all the 400 or so Canadians who wished to leave Hubei, the Chinese province that includes the city of Wuhan, have been repatriated and are quarantined in southern Ontario, at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.
There are still permanent Canadian residents in Hubei, he said. Though Chinese authorities initially stipulated that only Canadian passport holders would be able to leave the quarantined region, they seem to have relaxed that rule, Champagne said, but he did not elaborate on whether Canada would make arrangements to fly more of them out.
The last flight chartered by the Canadian government to evacuate people from the city of Wuhan, which landed at CFB Trenton on Tuesday, was the last the government plans to send to the region. Those Canadians who chose to stay behind in Hubei have been provided with consular services, Champagne said.