Coronavirus quarantine ends for most on cruise ship in Japan as global deaths top 2,000

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Photo via CBS News

There were more than 75,000 people infected with the new coronavirus as of Wednesday morning, and it has killed more than 2,000. The vast majority of cases are in China, but even as Japan lifted the quarantine on a cruise ship with the biggest outbreak outside that country, dozens more passengers tested positive, and a new cluster of cases emerged in South Korea.

Global health officials have voiced cautious optimism as the daily rate of new infections in China has declined for two days in a row, and authorities have waged an aggressive campaign to find any cases still lurking in the locked-down epicenter city of Wuhan. The World Health Organization warned, however, that the decline could reverse, and the biggest concern has been any sign that the COVID-19 disease is spreading significantly between people in communities outside of China.

Japanese officials said another 79 cases had been confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday, bringing the new total to 621. Wednesday marked the end of the two-week quarantine imposed on the vessel when it docked in Japan, and hundreds of passengers who have tested negative for the virus were being allowed off the ship.

Almost 340 American passengers have already been brought back to the U.S. – at least 14 of them hospitalized with the virus. More than 100 American cruise passengers who remained on the ship in Japan or were taken off and hospitalized in that country will have to wait another two weeks before they can return to the U.S.

Iran reports first cases of new coronavirus
Iranian authorities confirmed on Wednesday two cases of the new coronavirus, the first in the country, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

The report did not elaborate on the nationality of the two people infected by the virus. ISNA quoted an official in the country’s health ministry, Kiyanoush Jahanpour, as saying that “since last two days, some suspected cases of the new coronavirus were found.”

Jahanpour did not say how many people were suspected of having the virus, which causes the illness recently named COVID-19. He said the two confirmed cases were detected in the central province of Qom.

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