China’s Health Commission on Monday announced another 136 deaths linked to coronavirus in mainland China, bringing the total number of deaths from the outbreak to over 2,000. All but a handful of those deaths have occured in mainland China, and most have occured in the Hubei province, where the virus is thought to have originated. Of the 136 deaths announced Wednesday, 132 were in Hubei.
Wednesday also marked the end of a two-week quarantine for passengers on a cruise ship in Tokyo. Hundreds of passengers, all of whom tested negative for the virus and were symptom-free, were allowed to leave the Diamond Princess Wednesday. More will leave the ship later this week, but tests are still ongoing.
According to Princess Cruises, passengers will need a certificate that indicates a negative test for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, from Japanese health officials before they are allowed to leave the ship. There have so far been 624 confirmed cases of the virus on board the ship.
The passengers leaving the ship are not out of danger though. A handful of countries, including the United States, have said that passengers flying home will face an additional two-week quarantine. It’s the latest sign that the quarantine period aboard the ship was not handled well.
Japanese infectious disease specialist Kentaro Iwata, who visited the ship Tuesday, has described the scene onboard as “completely chaotic.” In an interview with the Times, Iwata said that the people leaving the ship Wednesday could endanger those around them. “I would not be surprised if they spread infections,” he said.
Japanese passengers who were allowed to leave the ship were originally told they were in the clear and given the green light to go home and ride public transportation. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato later revised those recommendations though and suggested they quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.
Meanwhile the global spread of the virus continues to expand. On Wednesday alone, Iran saw two deaths linked to the virus, South Korea reported 20 new cases, Japan reported ten, Singapore reported three, and Hong Kong reported one.