Testing aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has found 60 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, national broadcaster NHK said on Monday.
That brings total cases on the ship docked in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, to 130.
Japanese authorities have so far tested about 280 people on board the Diamond Princess, which was placed on a two-week quarantine after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
About 3,700 people are on board the vessel, which usually has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.
The Princess Cruise website describes the ship as “your home away from home” and it will remain so for most passengers at least until February 19. The quarantine period could be extended if necessary, a Japanese government official said.
One of those found infected is in serious condition. Many on board are elderly and at greater risk of developing complications from the virus.
Mike Ryan, the World Health Organisation’s top emergency expert, said new cases would push back the quarantine.
“We need to find a way to break that vicious cycle and find a way of organising the patients on board in a way that we can get people off the ship in due course, Ryan said.
On board, passengers were finding out about the new infections from the internet before they were announced on the ship, said a Hong Kong man, who declined to be identified.
Ashley Rhodes-Courter, an American whose parents were on the ship, said she hoped US officials would help get them off.
The outbreak, which has killed more than 900 people in mainland China and two elsewhere, has stoked concern about the
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which begin on July 24.
Games organisers have set up a task force to coordinate with health authorities on how to respond to the epidemic.
Japan has already reported at least 26 cases of the coronavirus, excluding the infections on board the ship, and evacuated hundreds of citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pathogen emerged, including on a fourth flight on Friday.