More than 40 Americans are among several hundred people who have tested positive for the coronavirus while quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan, health officials said Sunday.
A total of 355 people aboard the Diamond Princess are infected with the virus, according to Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato.
Forty-four of those infected passengers are Americans, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post.
The passengers have been under a mandatory quarantine for more than a week while docked in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, near Tokyo.
Everyone infected on the ship will be taken to hospitals in Japan while all others will be evacuated to the US, where they will undergo a second quarantine, Fauci said on “Face The Nation.”
“They are not going to go anywhere,” Fauci said. “The degree of transmissibility on that cruise ship is essentially akin to being in a hot spot.”
Anyone who begins to show symptoms while being evacuated to the US will be separated on the return flight, he added.
The news comes one day after authorities confirmed that an 83-year-old American woman who had been cleared to leave a cruise ship in Cambodia and then flew to Malaysia has since tested positive for the virus.
Fauci warned that the outbreak is “on the verge” of becoming a global pandemic “unless containment is more successful than it is right now.”
Globally, there have been 51,857 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak began in China late last year, according to the World Health Organization.
The vast majority of the cases have been in China, though 15 people in the US who were recently in China have also tested positive for the illness.