Medical personnel prepare to help unload passengers form Diamond Princess at the Daikoku Pier in Yokohama, Kanagawa-Prefecture, Japan, on Wednesday. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Two passengers of a quarantined cruise ship in Japan have died after contracting a deadly coronavirus that has infected more than 600 people on the vessel, Japanese government officials said.
The 87-year-old man and 84-year-old woman, both Japanese nationals, died Thursday, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.
They are the second and third people to die from the disease in Japan, which has at least 60 confirmed cases of the virus.
The man was removed from the ship to an onshore medical facility Feb. 11 after testing positive for the virus and the woman was transferred the day after, the officials said.
The Diamond Princess, with 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew, has been anchored in Yokohama Port since early this month after a former passenger was confirmed infected with COVID-19, which has killed more than 2,100 people worldwide and has spread to over two dozen countries since it emerged in China early December.
Since the ship was placed under a two-week quarantine, the virus spread among its passengers, infecting at least 621 people as of late Wednesday.
The deaths come as several hundred passengers of the ship were expected to disembark Thursday as part of an operation that began the day prior with some 600 people who tested negative for COVID-19 exiting the ship following the end of the 14-day quarantine, the cruise operator Princess Cruise said in an update.
However, the two deaths follow at least four others that have occurred in the past two days outside the Chinese mainland, which is where a great majority of the deaths have been located so far.
In an emailed statement to UPI on Thursday, Hong Kong's Hospital Authority said a 70-year-old patient infected with COVID-19 died the day prior at Princess Margaret Hospital.
Of Hong Kong's 68 confirmed cases, he was listed as case number 55. According to an earlier press release from the government, he suffered from "underlying illnesses" and lived alone but was admitted to Princess Margaret Feb. 12 after suffering a fall though he had been exhibiting symptoms of the infection since Feb. 2.
Iran also reported that its first two patients infected with the coronavirus died in the city of Qom on Wednesday.
On Thursday, South Korea also confirmed its first death, according to its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The country also reported 52 new cases of the virus, bringing the total in the country up to 156, the highest outside of China.
Outside of mainland China, France, the Philippines and Taiwan have each recorded a death while Hong Kong and Iran now have two and Japan has three.
In mainland China, the death toll continued to climb on Thursday as the number of infected continued to gradually drop, Chinese health officials said in their daily update with 118 deaths and 889 new confirmed cases reported
Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, recorded 115 of those deaths and 631 of the new confirmed cases.
The new figures increase the death toll to 2,236 for mainland China and 2,245 worldwide.