Three of 78 Indonesian crew members on board anchored cruise ship test positive for coronavirus

Passengers on the deck of the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama on Feb 18, 2020. From Wednesday, Japan plans to let all passengers who tested negative for the virus after a two-week quarantine to disembark. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Three of 78 Indonesian crew members on board a cruise ship anchored off the coast of Japan's Yokohama have tested positive for the coronavirus, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday (Feb 18).

Two of them are being treated for Covid-19 at a hospital in the city of Chiba in Chiba prefecture, while the third is being sent to a hospital.

Ms Retno said a team from the Indonesian Embassy in Japan is now in Chiba to ensure proper treatment for the two Indonesian nationals.

The Indonesian authorities have also been in touch with the families of the three people in Indonesia, she added.

"In the meantime, the embassy continues to communicate with other crew members who are still on board," Ms Retno told reporters.

On Monday, the minister made a phone call to the crew members, informing them about the discussions between Indonesian authorities and their Japanese counterparts on the situation onboard.

The three Indonesian nationals are among more than 540 people found infected on the ship.

As many as 3,711 people from 56 countries, including 1,045 crew members, are on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has the biggest cluster of Covid-19 cases outside China, the centre of the virus outbreak.

Japan has taken test samples from all passengers and crew members on board.

Starting from Wednesday, Japan plans to let all passengers who tested negative for the virus after a two-week quarantine to disembark from the cruise liner, which has been docked at the port of Yokohama for weeks. It expects to complete disembarkation by Friday.

South Korea and the UK have said they would organise the evacuation of their citizens from the ship.

Malaysian health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said two Malaysians on board the vessel had also tested positive for Covid-19 and are being looked after by the Japanese authorities.

Ms Retno noted that Indonesian authorities will also evacuate the Indonesian crew members and are now coordinating the matter with Japanese authorities and the operator of the cruise ship.

In its communication with Japan's ambassador in Indonesia earlier on Tuesday, Jakarta also demanded that Japanese authorities ensure that the cruise company can guarantee the rights of its crew members in response to the situation, Ms Retno said.

The coronavirus has so far infected more than 73,000 people across the globe and the death toll has hit more than 1,800 in China.

Indonesia has tested 104 people with suspected infections, but the results for 102 were negative. Test results for another two cases were still pending, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Before the three Indonesian crew members on board the Diamond Princess were confirmed to have the disease, a 44-year-old Indonesian woman working as a maid in Singapore had tested positive for the virus.

Later this week in Laos, Indonesia's Foreign Minister and her counterparts from Asean and China will discuss ways to battle the disease.

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