Two passengers on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan died after contracting the deadly coronavirus that infected more than 600 people on the ship, Japanese government officials said.
The Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday that the 87-year-old man and the 84-year-old woman, both Japanese, are dead.
They are the second and third to die from the disease in Japan, which has recorded at least 60 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The man was moved from the ship to a shore-based medical facility on February 11, after being tested positive for the virus, and the woman was transferred the following day, officials said.
Diamond Princess, with 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew, has been anchored in the port of Yokohama since the beginning of this month, after a former passenger was confirmed infected with COVID-19, which killed more than 2,100 people worldwide and spread for more than two dozen countries since it emerged in China in early December.
As the ship was quarantined for two weeks, the virus spread among its passengers, infecting at least 621 people on Wednesday.
The deaths occurred when several hundred passengers on the ship were due to disembark on Thursday as part of an operation started the day before with about 600 people who tested negative for COVID-19 leaving the ship after the end of the 14-day quarantine. Cruise operator said in an update.
However, the two deaths follow at least four others that have occurred in the past two days outside the Chinese mainland, which is where the vast majority of deaths have been located so far.
The Hong Kong Hospital Authority said a 70-year-old patient infected with COVID-19 died the day before at Princess Margaret Hospital.
Of the 63 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, he was listed as number 55. According to a previous government press release, he suffered from “underlying diseases” and lived alone, but was admitted to Princess Margaret on February 12.
Iran also reported that its first two patients infected with the coronavirus died in the city of Qom on Wednesday.
On Thursday, South Korea also confirmed its first death, according to its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Outside mainland China, France, the Philippines and Taiwan recorded one death, while Hong Kong and Iran now have two and Japan three.
In the Chineses mainland, the death toll continued to rise on Thursday as the number of infected people continued to decline gradually, Chinese health officials said in their daily update with 114 deaths and 394 confirmed cases recorded in the previous 24 hours. On Wednesday, there were 136 deaths and 1,749 new cases.
The epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province, recorded 108 of those deaths and 349 of the new confirmed cases.
The new numbers increase the death toll to 2,118 in mainland China and 2,127 worldwide.