218 coronavirus cases confirmed on cruise ship off Japan with 15 Israelis on board

Another 44 people on a cruise ship in Yokohama tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed cases from the ship to 218, Japan’s health minister says.

The ship was placed under quarantine on February 4 and it isn’t scheduled to be lifted until February 19.

About 3,700 people are aboard the cruise, which has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.

Passengers are confined to cabins and required to wear masks and keep their distance from each other when they are allowed out for brief periods on open decks.

Among the passengers on the ship are 15 Israelis who are currently under quarantine. No one of the Israelis has been reported infected.

Japan’s deputy ambassador to Israel said that the release of the Israelis will be carried out only after the isolation period is over.

The health minister said authorities now want to move elderly people off the ship if they test negative for the virus, offering to put them in government-designated lodging.

Passengers who test positive will continue to be moved to on-shore hospitals.

The number of deaths and new cases from China’s coronavirus outbreak spiked dramatically on Thursday after authorities changed the way they count infections in a move that will likely fuel speculation that the severity of the outbreak has been under-reported.

The jump raised the death toll to 1,355 and the total number of nationwide infections to nearly 60,000 — just hours after President Xi Jinping touted “positive results” from the government’s drastic measures to contain the virus and a top Chinese expert predicted the epidemic would peak this month.

Citizen journalist Chen Qiushi, who has been covering the virus outbreak for weeks, “disappeared” after his reports from Wuhan started getting millions of hits.