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How coronavirus quarantine on cruise ship went so wrong

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

An infectious diseases expert has slammed the ship’s quarantine procedures as “chaotic” and “completely inadequate”.

Quarantine procedures aboard the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan – on which 200 Australian passengers stayed - have been slammed as "chaotic" by an expert.

Earlier today, 170 Australians from the Diamond Princess, docked off Yokohoma Port, arrived in Darwin after two weeks of quarantine on the vessel.

But as they departed Japan, an expert on infectious diseases said he was ejected from the cruise liner after raising concerns about lapse quarantine methods.

Kentaro Iwata, an infectious diseases professor at Kobe University, took to YouTube, to describe "chaotic" failures that could spread coronavirus.


Yesterday at the end of the 14-day isolation on the Diamond Princess it emerged 621 passengers were diagnosed with the virus.

Prof. Iwata said he was now in self-isolation for fear of contracting coronavirus after being aboard the cruise ship.

"It turns out the cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of the infection control. There was no distinction between the green zone, which is free of infection, and the red zone, which is potentially contaminated," he said. 

"There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship… The bureaucrats were in charge of everything."

Prof. Iwata said he saw people eating lunch or scrolling their phones while wearing protective gear.

He also said that passengers had been asked to sign paper consent forms which could have transmitted the virus. 

Workers gather on the dock next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

And the lack of further protective measures means anyone aboard – including passengers, crew and medical staff – could unknowingly pass the virus on.

Prof. Iwata said authorities had pressured him to leave the vessel after he expressed concern at their handling of the healthy emergency.

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He aired his concerns after Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases said a large number of the coronavirus infections on the Diamond Princess happened before authorities asked all passengers and crew to stay inside their cabins for a two-week quarantine from February 5, reports Kyodo News.

Japanese officials have defended their handling of the Diamond Princess quarantine.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament that "expert doctors who are members of an infection prevention team are supervising inside the ship".

Australian evacuees landed in Darwin this morning. Those on board will be screened for symptoms of the virus five times before being taken to a facility at Howard Springs, 30km south-east of Darwin.

How coronavirus affects the human body.

But 10 were told they could not leave because they had tested positive to the deadly disease, known as COVID-19, meaning only 170 could board the flight.

Another 15 had already chosen to stay behind in Japan to be near family members who have been hospitalised after contracting the virus.

Source: 9News

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