Two passengers who contracted the coronavirus while onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died, according to Japanese authorities. The two victims were not identified but were said to be a Japanese man and a woman who were both in their 80s. Officials said they both had underlying medical conditions.
The Diamond Princess has been quarantined off the coast of Japan since February 5. There have been 621 confirmed cases on the ship, which is the largest number of cases outside of China, where the viral outbreak began.
Officials are beginning to let some passengers who tested negative for the virus off of the cruise ship but urged them to stay home for at least two weeks as a precaution.
"COVID-19 is not 100 percent known, and a lot of people got infected on the Diamond Princess. Taking those factors into consideration, we believe taking extra caution will contribute to preventing the risk of future infections," Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said.
The U.S. State Department began evacuating Americans from the cruise ship, even those who have tested positive for the virus. Most of them were taken to military bases in California and Texas, where they will be quarantined for an additional two weeks.
Some of the passengers were transported to the hospital, and 13 Americans were taken to the University of Nebraska Health Center, where they are being treated in a quarantine unit.
As of Wednesday (February 19), there have been more than 75,700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 2,128 people have died.
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