Twenty four American passengers have been diagnosed with the coronavirus on-board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan.
Nearly 3,700 passengers on the Diamond Princess luxury cruise liner have been held at the port of Yokohama after the first cases of the illness were reported on the ship earlier this month.
Overnight 11 more Americans were diagnosed and the total number of passengers with the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, rose to 136
The passengers have been ordered to remain in their rooms until 19 February “unless there are any unforeseen developments”, the cruise liner has said, as the diagnosed were sent to local hospitals.
The latest cases also included 45 passengers from Japan, four from Australia and three from the Philippines, as well as one Canadian and one Ukrainian passenger.
At least 908 people have died from coronavirus after the virus began spreading across China last year. The new virus was believed to have infected over 40,000 patients worldwide, with the majority of those cases occurring in China.
Officials said the virus likely originated in a market in Wuhan, China and was capable of spreading from person-to-person, as well as between animals and humans.
Stefano Ravera, captain of the Princess Diamond cruise ship, told CNN the latest rise in diagnoses “was not unexpected” and that the new cases likely involved “individuals exposed prior to the start of the quarantine”.
Confirmed cases of the virus have continued to steadily rise in China, with a 15 per cent rise in infections being reported during the weekend. At least 12 cases have been confirmed in the US.
The coronavirus has officially surpassed the death toll in the 2003 SARS outbreak.
Rebecca Frasure, an American on the ship who tested positive for the virus, told CBS News it was “very surreal” to have been diagnosed with the mysterious illness.
"It was a very surreal experience, to be told that you have this virus that, as far as I knew, could be deadly. Although I didn't feel sick at all. That part was very strange for me," she said. "How can I have this when I don't feel sick?"
The passenger, who has since been quarantined in hospital, said she missed her husband and added with a laugh: “I really want some American food.”
A Japanese flag with the words “medicine lacking” is draped on the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess. Some guests are elderly and on medication. #coronavirus #DiamondPrincess pic.twitter.com/iQncSy50tX
— Paula Hancocks (@PHancocksCNN)
Matthew Smith, a 57-year-old California passenger who has not tested positive for the coronavirus, told CNBC it was “a little bit depressing” to think about the length of the quarantine — and how much longer he has left on the ship.
“Imagine being trapped in your bathroom,” he said.
Still, Mr Smith praised the cruise liner for its response to the outbreak, telling the news outlet: “I give Princess and the captain of this vessel an A plus-plus on their response to this … they faced a situation that I expect they had no plans for.”
Nearly 3,700 passengers on the Diamond Princess luxury cruise liner have been quarantined at the port of Yokohama after the first cases of coronavirus were reported on the ship earlier this month.