COVID-19 concerns grow in Japan as hundreds of cruise ship passengers finish quarantine

Hundreds of Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship near Tokyo on Friday amid growing disquiet in Japan about whether the government is doing enough to stop the virus spreading.

The scheduled departure of more than 400 passengers from the Diamond Princess after weeks in quarantine comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a low-level travel advisory for Japan. Meanwhile some public gatherings in the country are being scrapped in a bid to contain the virus, which has killed more than 2,200 people in mainland China so far.

More than 600 travelers aboard the liner, quarantined off Yokohama since arriving on Feb. 3 with 3,700 people aboard, have been infected with the virus. Two of them – both Japanese in their 80s – died on Thursday, and some 80 people around Japan, including 25 in the capital of Tokyo, have tested positive for the virus.

While foreign travelers leaving the ship face more quarantine at home, Japanese do not — a situation that has stoked concerns about Japan’s quarantine practices. A number of countries have flown nationals who were aboard the liner home: Two Australians tested positive for the virus after their arrival, Australian authorities said on Friday.

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