3,700 quarantined after 10 on cruise ship test positive for coronavirus

UPDATE: Coronavirus spreads to Wisconsin in 12th US case

Wisconsin health officials confirmed their first case of coronavirus Wednesday, raising the total number of cases in the United States to 12, according to multiple media outlets.

The person, who was tested at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being isolated at home and is not in the hospital, officials said. 

As the global death toll from the coronavirus epidemic rose to 492 Wednesday, two cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers through Asia were quarantined after several travelers either tested positive or showed symptoms of the virus, according to news reports. 

»PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Coronavirus causes ripples around the world amid rising cases, death toll

About 3,700 people aboard a Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan are being held under a protective quarantine for 10 to 14 days after 10 people tested positive for the virus, officials said. 

Multiple reports said passengers were not being allowed to leave their cabins. 

The infected passengers include two Australians, three Japanese, three from Hong Kong, and one from the U.S. — as well as one Filipino crew member, according to reports. 

»RELATED: What is the Wuhan coronavirus?

The 10 people were being transported to a treatment facility in Yokohama, Japan's health minister Katsunobu Kato told local media at a news conference. 

Reports said none of the sick had to be carried off the boat. 

Passengers miserable

Back on the ship, passengers were reportedly miserable and struggling to stay optimistic, according to The Washington Post. 

Many isolated passengers reached by the newspaper said they were limited to sitting in their cabins around the clock, watching television and waiting on the crew to deliver meals. 

The cabins with balconies offered relief to some passengers who ventured outside for fresh air or to chat with shipmates next door. 

Some passengers also complained they could not order alcohol, reports said. 

“Princess Cruises will continue to fully cooperate with and follow the instructions of global medical authorities and the Japanese government," Princess Cruises said in a statement Tuesday, adding the company would prioritize the comfort of quarantined passengers, while mentioning internet and phone access. 

Hong Kong ship confined

Elsewhere, a World Dream cruise ship with 3,600 on board was quarantined in Hong Kong after 30 crew members reported experiencing viral symptoms. Three were taken to local hospitals for treatment, while no other passengers or crew members were being allowed to leave the boat, reports said. 

Reports say three people who traveled aboard the ship during a separate voyage between Jan. 19 and 24 tested positive for the virus after they disembarked in Guangzhou, China. 

Originally bound for Taiwan, the ship was turned away by the Taiwanese government and was not allowed to port in Kaohsiung. 

Of the passengers, 90% are from Hong Kong and the rest foreigners, reports said.  

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global public health emergency. 

Where things stand in the US

Last week, President Donald Trump also declared a public health emergency. 

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Trump said the United States was coordinating with China on the response to the outbreak. 

»MORE: CDC to start screening for coronavirus at Hartsfield-Jackson

“Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases,” Trump said. “We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.” 

A second group of evacuated Americans arrived Wednesday in the United States from Wuhan, China. 

Officials have reported 11 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday and the State Department has urged Americans not to travel to China, where the number of infected now stands at more than 24,000, according to Beijing’s National Health Commission. 

With the death toll now above 490, more people have died in this epidemic than in the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003 in China, according to The New York Times. During that outbreak, 349 people died in the mainland.

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