An increasing number of coronavirus infections on an Italian cruise ship on Friday caused concern in communities in South-Western Japan.
According to Local Government officials, 43 additional crew members on The Costa Atlantica docked in the city of Nagasaki have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“The new cases raised the total number of infections on the ship to 91 and one crew member, who is showing severe symptoms, remains hospitalized in the city of Nagasaki,’’ the official said.
The Nagasaki prefectural government has so far tested 335 of the 623 crew members on the ship.
There are no remaining passengers on board.
The official added that as the rest of the crew members were being tested, most of their results would be available on Saturday.
A local doctors’ organisation on Friday expressed concern that the medical system could collapse if the number of confirmed cases on the ship continue to rise.
Nagasaki has so far confirmed 108 coronavirus cases, including the 91 on the ship, a relatively high number compared to 3,500 recorded cases in Tokyo.
The Costa Atlantica arrived in Nagasaki in late January to undergo repairs.
The vessel was initially heading toward China to be serviced, but due to coronavirus outbreak in the country, Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipbuilding carried out the repairs.
Mitsubishi Shipbuilding initially said nobody had boarded or disembarked from the ship since mid-March.
However, the company admitted on Wednesday that some crew members had done so even though they had been asked not to.
Nagasaki Governor, Hodo Nakamura, said he had not been informed of the disembarkation, adding that it was extremely regrettable.
Overall, Japan had reported more than 13,000 coronavirus cases, including 712 on the Princess Diamond cruise ship carrying about 3,700 passengers and crew quarantined in the port of Yokohama in February.
However, the Japanese Government had been criticised for its handling of the crisis.
Earlier, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had extended a state of emergency from seven prefectures to the whole country as the virus continued to spread across the country.