By Roy Mabasa
The 218 passengers and crew onboard the cruise ship MV Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus disease-2019 represents the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside China, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday.
Currently moored in the Port of Yokohama, the Diamond Princess has more than 3,500 passengers and crewmembers onboard.
Eleven of those who tested positive for COVID-19 are Filipino crewmembers that are now undergoing treatment in various hospitals in and around Tokyo.
“Regarding the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is currently quarantined in Yokohama, 218 passengers have tested positive for the virus, which does represent the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside China,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme at a media briefing in Geneva.
Outside the cases on the Diamond Princess, Dr. Ryan said they are not seeing a dramatic increase in transmission outside China as the number of countries reporting COVID-19 cases has still not changed as of yesterday, February 13.
Also on Thursday, the Japanese health ministry reported that 44 more people on board the cruise ship have tested positive for the virus.
The DFA said no Filipinos were among the new group of 44 individuals who tested positive for the virus.
Over the next few days, the Diamond Princess, in coordination with the Japanese health authorities, is planning to implement voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility.
According to the Diamond Princess’ website, the disembarkation plan will be a “phased approach” with the most medically vulnerable guests, including elder adults with pre-existing health conditions, will be prioritized.