11 passengers leave quarantined ship off Japan

National

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, a reporter walks near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Life on board the luxury cruise ship, which has dozens of cases of a new virus, can include fear, excitement and soul-crushing boredom, according to interviews by The Associated Press with passengers and a stream of tweets and YouTube videos. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(AP) — Eleven passengers were allowed off the quarantined cruise ship “Diamond Princess” on Friday, according to Japan’s Health Ministry, in an effort to prioritize passengers who may be at high risk from the new virus.

The ministry said it would prioritize disembarking those who wish to leave the ship, and are above 80 years of age, those with underlying medical conditions as well as those staying in windowless cabins.

These groups of people will still need to be tested for the novel coronavirus, and stay at a government-designated facility in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, to continue their quarantine.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped up efforts to protect the Japanese population from the virus.

He called for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions to avoid crowded areas, and take other preventive measures as precaution.

The government is also setting up consultation hotlines nationwide and expanding virus testing capacity.

Japan has confirmed multiple cases of new infections in recent days.

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