Japanese Officials Perplexed By COVID-19 Outbreak Aboard Cruise Ship Docked For Months

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Japanese officials are perplexed by a coronavirus outbreak on board an Italian-operated cruise ship that has been docked for months—with 48 crew members testing positive as of Thursday⁠—and becoming the latest cruise ship to struggle with containing the virus.

The ship, Costa Atlantica, has 623 crew on board and no passengers; it has been docked in Japan’s Nagasaki City since late January, according to NBC News.

As of Thursday, 48 crew members were diagnosed with coronavirus, and one worker was ill enough to be moved to a nearby hospital and placed on a ventilator.

Authorities are perplexed by the outbreak because the ship has been docked for months and the city has a relatively low number of infections, the Associated Press reported.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries took the Costa Atlantica into its Nagasaki shipyard for maintenance and repairs, and told the AP that no crew had been allowed to disembark after the ship’s first case was reported March 14.

Crew members who passed temperature checks and other criteria were allowed off the ship for hospital visits or going to the airport to return home, Mitsubishi later learned.

Officials also suspect that a crew switch in the past few weeks could have led to the ship’s outbreak.

“We had been told that there was no embarking or disembarking so this is a very regrettable situation,” Nagasaki Gov. Hodo Nakamura said in a Wednesday news conference.

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