Two elderly passengers taken off the Diamond Princess cruise ship because they were infected with a new virus have died, Japan’s health ministry said Thursday, becoming the first fatalities from the virus-stricken vessel.
Japan now has three deaths linked to the COVID-19 illness.
Japan’s NHK public television said both were Japanese in their 80s. A health ministry official only confirmed that they had been previously been hospitalized in serious condition and had existing chronic diseases. The official spoke anonymously, citing office protocol.
The new virus began in China late last year has sickened tens of thousands of people, mostly in central China’s Hubei province. The 621 cases confirmed among the Diamond Princess’s original 3,711 people on board are the most anywhere outside China.
The Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama port, near Tokyo, started letting passengers who tested negative for the virus leave the ship Wednesday. Test results are still pending for some people on board.
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