Indians on board Japan cruise ship seeks Modi's help as new cases of coronavirus emerge

Indians on board Japan cruise ship seeks Modi's help as new cases of coronavirus emerge
A woman wearing a mask turns around after viewing the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where dozens of passengers were tested positive for coronavirus, from an observation deck overlooking the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Monday. Reuters
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Tokyo: Around 60 more people aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus. An unspecified number of Indians are among the nearly 3,000 passengers and crew members on board the ship, the Indian Embassy here said on Monday.

Diamond Princess, carrying 3,711 people, arrived at the Japanese coast early last week and was quarantined after a passenger who de-boarded last month in Hong Kong was found to be the carrier of the novel virus on the ship.

Monday's test results have taken the total number of those infected on the ship to 130. Authorities had initially tested nearly 300 people when the ship arrived at the Japanese coast. In recent days, testing has expanded to those with new symptoms or who had close contact with other infected passengers or crew, and several more cases were reported over the weekend.

Those who remain on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins and allowed only briefly onto open decks.

Indian Embassy in Tokyo on Monday tweeted the information about the Indians on the ship.

"Many Indian crew & some Indian passengers are on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined off Japan due to Coronavirus (nCoV)," it tweeted, without giving a specific number of Indians on the ship.

"In this context, any query please contact First Secretary (Consular) @IndianEmbTokyo at fscons.tokyo@mea.gov.in @CPVIndia @MEAIndia @PMOIndia," it said.

Those on the ship have been asked to wear masks and allowed limited access to the open decks as they are advised to remain in the cabins most of the times to contain the spread of the virus, according to media reports.

According to an AFP report, people on board the ship are facing difficulty due to the quarantine measures, particularly those in windowless interior cabins and others who require medication for various chronic conditions.

'Modi ji help us'

Binay Kumar Sarkar, a chef from north Bengal, told NDTV that there was full-fledged panic on-board. Sarkar had earlier gone on social media to appeal to the Indian government for help.

In a video recorded from the ship, Sarkar appealed to the government and the United Nations to segregate the Indians on board. All the men in the video were wearing white masks.

"Please somehow save us as soon as possible. What's the point if something happens (to us)...I want to tell the government of India, Modi-ji, please segregate us and bring us back home safely," he said.

The Japanese health ministry said Monday that around 600 people on board urgently needed medication, and around half received supplies over the weekend, it said.

The ship is expected to stay in quarantine until February 19 -- 14 days after the isolation period began.

The death toll in the coronavirus outbreak in China has gone up to 908 with 97 new fatalities reported mostly in the worst-affected Hubei province and the confirmed cases of infection crossing 40,000.

The coronavirus outbreak originated in central China's Hubei province in December last year.

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