Quarantined passengers disembark ship in Japan

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 19, 2020 - Duration: 01:48s

Quarantined passengers disembark ship in Japan

Hundreds of people began disembarking a quarantined cruise ship off Japan on Wednesday as the death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 and the number of new cases in the country fell for a second straight day.

Michelle Hennessy reports.

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Quarantined passengers disembark ship in Japan

Fresh air at last.

Hundreds of passengers from the virus-hit cruise in Japan were allowed off on Wednesday (February 19).

Nearly 4,000 people were on board when the ship was quarantined on February 3rd.

The lucky ones still had access to sunlight from their balconies.

Others were stuck in windowless cabins.

The Diamond Princess, and the people on it, have been at the forefront of media attention for weeks.

More than 540 people on board had tested positive for the virus.

The biggest concentration of infections outside China.

Countries are now queuing up to collect their citizens.

Including the city of Hong Kong, which reported its second death in the territory from the virus on Wednesday.

The 70-year-old man is the sixth confirmed death outside the mainland.

A Japanese official said it'll take days to get everyone off the ship, and passengers and crew who had shared a room with an infected person would have to stay on.

Meanwhile in China, the center of the outbreak, there was a thread of optimism.

New cases fell in the country for a second straight day.

And excluding Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, the number of new infections totaled 56 on Tuesday (February 18).

That's down from a peak of 890 just two weeks ago.

The death toll though continues to climb and has now passed 2,000 people in China.

Experts are still warning it's too early to tell if the epidemic has actually been contained.

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