The latest figures brings the total confirmed cases on the Diamond Princess to 175, including four people who are in a serious condition.
Four people in the latest group to be diagnosed are Australian.
Earlier there were claims a young Melbourne woman had been taken to hospital.
This afternoon health minister Greg Hunt said he “really felt” for the Australians stuck on the cruise ship, some in cramped cabins with no windows, and that the conditions were so bad a mental health helpline is being set up for stressed out Aussies on board.
Mr Hunt also said he was “deeply aware” of the economic consequences of barring people from crossing the border who has been in mainland China but the risk of coronavirus spreading in Australia was “extraordinary” and drastic measures were needed.
Speaking today, Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato confirmed the new infections on the Diamond Princess.
“Out of 53 new test results (on passengers and crew), 39 people were found positive,” said.
In a disastrous turn of events, a quarantine official, who had been collecting forms on the vessel, has also tested positive to the virus.
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“At this point, we have confirmed that four people, among those who are hospitalised, are in a serious condition, either on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit,” Mr Kato added.
There are about 200 Australians among the 3700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess, which has the biggest known cluster of coronavirus cases outside China.
Eleven Australian passengers have already been confirmed to have the virus. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the government was working to determine whether any Australians were among the new cases.
“We are aware today of reports that there are 40 new cases of coronavirus identified on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama,” Ms Payne said this afternoon.
“Our embassy in Tokyo is once again seeking urgent advice from Japanese authorities as to whether there are any Australians among those new cases.
“We have 11 Australians confirmed as testing positive for coronavirus from the Diamond Princess. They have been taken off the ship and to Japanese medical facilities where, of course, they are being cared for and supported.”
It comes as a Melbourne grandfather has told 3AW radio his 21-year-old granddaughter has just been diagnosed with coronavirus, which would make her the 12th Australian case, AAP reported.
“My granddaughter Bianca, who is 21 years old, tested positive and now she’s in isolation in the hospital and my three other family members are all in isolation wards over there,” the man named Peter said.
He said Bianca, who is from the Melbourne suburb of Sydenham, had been removed from the ship along with her parents and younger brother, and taken to a hospital about two hours from the port where the ship is in lockdown.
Peter said Australians on the Diamond Princess hadn’t heard from the government since the ship went under quarantine on February 3.
“These people are in limbo and no one cares about them,” he said.
“That’s how it seems because we’ve had no contact from the government in any way.”
He said his family had been “locked up in these two little rooms, 3×3 perhaps, without any access to clean air or anything”.
The ship remains docked at Yokohama Port near Tokyo, where it has been under quarantine since completing a 14-day tour that included stops at Hong Kong and other Asian ports.
Diamond Princess passengers have described their misery on-board as they were told to remain in their cabins to stop the potential spread of the virus.
Passenger David Abel likened the ship to a “floating prison”.
“We are definitely no longer on a luxury cruise, where we had the superb benefit of eating from a dining room and a choice from the menu – those days are over,” he said last week.
“It’s just an extended two-week cruise, but it’s not going to be a luxury cruise, it’s going to be like a floating prison,” he continued.
“For many passengers it’s going to be absolute boredom.”
‘EXTRAORDINARY’ CONSEQUENCES IF VIRUS SPREAD IN AUSTRALIA
Minister Hunt recognised the distressing situation on board. Talking to reporters in Canberra today he said, “We recognise that the stress is real. And we really feel for those people who are in that situation.”
“The Japanese authorities are doing an extraordinary job, both with the patients, but also those who are in quarantine on the ship, and it is a difficult situation.”
He said he was aware the enforced isolation could cause “anxiety” among the Australian passengers.
“It could trigger pre-existing mental health conditions. So, we’re working to provide a dedicated mental health line for those that are on the ship … within the course of the next 24 hours.”
Closer to home, he said despite the economic pain, Australia would not be relaxing its policy of not allowing people who have visited mainland China in the last fortnight to enter the country. This has left thousands of Chinese students, who were about to start at Australian universities, stranded. There are fears the lack of Chinese students alone could cost the economy billions of dollars.
“We are very aware, like, deeply aware, of the economic consequences. But the consequences of contagion within Australia at an economic, let alone more significantly a human level, would be extraordinary,” Mr Hunt said.
Japanese health officials started medical checks of people on the ship after a previous passenger, who left the ship at Hong Kong, was found to have the virus.
Princess Cruises, which operates the Diamond Princess, said all passengers would be refunded for the cruise, as well as air travel, hotels, ground transportation and other expenses.
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