The health minister of Japan apologised on Saturday after a woman who was given the permission to leave the coronavirus--infected Diamond Princess cruise ship which is docked near Tokyo tested positive for the deadly virus.
The woman who is in her 60s got out of the cruise ship on Wednesday after a two-week quarantine on board but she was found positive post another test in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
Japan health minister apologised
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference in Tokyo on Saturday evening that 23 people who had disembarked on Wednesday and Thursday had not undergone tests since before February 5, and the ministry was trying to reach them for retesting. "We deeply apologise for the situation caused by our oversight," Kato said. "We will take all necessary measures, like double checks, to prevent a recurrence."
The cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp, and carrying some 3,700 passengers and crew, has been quarantined in Yokohama since February 3. Japan's government is facing growing questions about whether it is doing enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus that originated in China and has killed more than 2,400 as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in July.
The US State Department raised its travel advisory for Japan to Level 2 on its four-notch scale on Saturday because of what it termed "sustained community spread." The number of confirmed domestic cases grew to 132 after the health ministry said on Saturday it had confirmed 27 new cases of the flu-like illness. That is separate from the more than 600 cases from the Diamond Princess, the biggest concentration of infections outside China.
(With agency inputs)