There are now 175 confirmed cases of patients infected by the deadly coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, authorities confirmed. 40 more cases were reported on Wednesday, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato confirmed. The ship with more than 3,700 people including passengers and crew are into the second week of being in quarantine. The group has become the largest cluster outside of mainland China to be affected by the virus.
This virus that originated in the Wuhan region of China has killed 1,100 people in the country so far.
The period of quarantine is due to end on February 19 and most members on deck have been confined to their quarters for most of the time with being allowed brief periods on the deck while wearing face masks.
"You sit out on the balcony and you hear people coughing all the way along," British passenger Sally Abel said in a video streamed on Facebook.
"It is nothing like a holiday, but it is complete relaxation," she added.
Despite the anxiety on board, one passenger praised the Italian captain for keeping stress levels manageable aboard the ship.
"One reason why a panic has not occurred among passengers is the captain's leadership. Regular announcements of information, answering passengers' requests by consulting quarantine officers, walking on the deck, apologising for delayed medicine distribution," the passenger tweeted.
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe announced that Japan was expanding its ban on travellers to Zhejiang province. Previously, a ban was imposed only on passengers from the Hubei region in Wuhan, the disease's epicentre.
The captain of the ship apologised for periodic disruption of services to the internet and said that the vessel has more “bandwidth than any ship in the world, and at the same time, more mobile devices than ever before connected on a ship." He also added that they are following the latest and the best public health guidelines from the authorities.
Passengers have been trying to stave off boredom and anxiety with on-demand movies, quizzes and games of Sudoku.
Kato also revealed there were four people in hospital in serious condition, either on a ventilator or in intensive care.
The Diamond Princess has been in quarantine since arriving off the Japanese coast early last week after the virus was detected in a former passenger who got off the ship in Hong Kong.
The ship's passengers have been asked to keep a distance from each other when out of their cabins, and given thermometers to regularly monitor their temperatures.