Coronavirus has continued to spread among the passengers and crew of the quarantined Princess Cruises’ ship, Diamond Princess, which remains docked at the port in Yokohama, Japan. As of Tuesday, 542 cases of the virus have been identified among the 3,711 quarantined passengers and crew, making the ship the site of the most infections outside of China.

Later the same day, Johns Hopkins University, which has been keeping a digital dashboard of all the cases, deaths and recovered patients across the globe added the 14 infected American evacuees from the Diamond Princess to the United States’ tally for a total of 29, nearly doubling its previous total of 15. The new figure represents the highest infection rate of any Western country. The next closest is Germany, which has 16.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told the USA TODAY Editorial Board and reporters Monday that the original idea to keep people safely quarantined on the ship wasn’t unreasonable. But even with the quarantine process on the ship, virus transmission still occurred.

“The quarantine process failed,” Fauci said. “I’d like to sugarcoat it and try to be diplomatic about it, but it failed. People were getting infected on that ship. Something went awry in the process of the quarantining on that ship. I don’t know what it was, but a lot of people got infected on that ship.”

The 14-day quarantine for those on the ship was due to end Wednesday. However, some Americans have already departed the ship. 

Two planes took a total 328 people to military bases in California and Texas Sunday. Early the following morning, 13 high-risk passengers were transferred to the National Quarantine Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. One was transferred to the biocontainment facility due to symptoms and a pre-existing chronic condition that would make him more vulnerable should he contract the virus.

Taylor Wilson, a spokesman for Nebraska Medicine, said Tuesday that the medical team there had finished testing the passengers. However, Nebraska Public Health Labs, one of only three state-run labs in the country certified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze the results, must confirm their findings with the CDC first, a process that could take several more days. 

Westerdam passengers back in limbo

A helicopter takes off from the MS Westerdam Tuesday after Cambodian health officials checked to see whether any remaining passengers have the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Meanwhile, some passengers who had disembarked Holland America’s MS Westerdam in Cambodia Friday were still stuck in limbo. 

According to Holland America Line, an 83-year-old American woman who departed from Westerdam on Friday later reported feeling ill at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and tested positive for coronavirus, according to a release from the cruise line shared with USA TODAY by Buck Banks. 

‘It’s day-by-day’:As coronavirus spreads on cruise ships, what does it mean for cruisers and cruise lines?

Dr. William Walters, the director of operational medicine at the U.S. State Department, told reporters Monday afternoon that 260 American citizens remain in hotels in Cambodia pending onward travel, and 92 more are on board the MS Westerdam. Around 300 Americans left Cambodia after testing under their ministry of health.

Holland America said that as of Monday 255 passengers and 747 crew members remained on the MS Westerdam, which is docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The cruise ship, which didn’t have any cases of coronavirus reported during the voyage, had been turned away from multiple ports.

As of Tuesday morning, over 73,336 people have contracted coronavirus worldwide and 1,874 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. 

The latest from China: Hospital director dies from coronavirus despite ‘all-out’ efforts to save his life

What we know and what we don’t about coronavirus: Read USA TODAY’s interview with NIH’s Anthony Fauci

Contributing: The Associated Press

Source link