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20 aboard cruise ship now stricken with coronavirus; the rest quarantined off Japan

The Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined off Yokohama, Japan, has now had 20 cases of coronavirus diagnosed — 10 earlier in the week and 10 more in the last day.

The first group of 10 — nine passengers and one crewmember — have been transferred for treatment onshore. Princess said the second group will disembark shortly and be taken to nearby hospitals.

The new group includes “four Japanese guests, one guest from Taiwan, two Americans, two Canadians and one guest from New Zealand,” Princess said in a statement. The cruise line said it had been notified that the new positive results came from the second set of samples taken from those aboard the ship.

The ship, carrying 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members, will remain where it is for two weeks.

The initial group that tested positive included three passengers from Hong Kong, three from Japan, two from Australia, one from the U.S. and one crew member from the Philippines.

The ship’s passengers began their journey Jan. 20 at Yokohama. Their cruise was to have ended Feb. 4. Instead, passengers and crew have entered a sort of limbo in which they are confined on a luxury ship. (NBC has reported that a second ship, the World Dream, has been quarantined at Hong Kong. It is operated by Dream Cruises.)

“No windows,” e-mailed Diamond Princess passenger Robert Young, a retired emergency medical services provider from the San Francisco Bay area who is in an inside cabin. “Meals adequate. Staff is doing a fantastic job during a taxing situation.” That, Young added, is “the upside.”

“So much wondering through this door,” confined passenger Yardley Wong wrote in a Twitter post with a photo of the inside of a closed Diamon Princess stateroom door.

About half the Diamond Princess’ passengers are from Japan and the rest from a variety of countries, Princess said. There are 428 Americans aboard, said CNN, quoting the U.S. Embassy.

Japan’s Ministry of Health completed the “first phase of health screening” of all aboard, Princess said in a statement late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, through social media, passengers are sharing bits and pieces of their newly circumscribed lives: meals on trays, underpopulated halls, masked workers in germ-proof suits.

The quarantine “will be at least 14 days as required by the Ministry of Health,” the cruise line said.

The next two Diamond Princess cruises, which were scheduled Feb. 4 and 12, have been canceled, Princess said. Those passengers will receive full refunds and a 100% future cruise credit, Princess said.

Princess officials said in a statement that food and other supplies would be brought aboard from Yokohama and that the ship would go on with many of its usual marine operations, including the production of fresh water.

Princess is providing passengers free internet and telephone use “in order to stay in contact with their family and loved ones.” (Yokohama is 17 hours ahead of Los Angeles.)

The crew, Princess said, is doing what it can to keep guests comfortable.

“The health and safety of our guest and crew remains our top priority,” Princess said. “We continue to work closely with the Japan Ministry of Health on all protocols and procedures while ensuring the comfort of our guests.”

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