A health ministry official confirmed that the two had been previously hospitalized in serious condition and had existing chronic diseases. The official spoke anonymously, citing office protocol.

Two elderly cruise ship passengers with coronavirus who were on Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess have died, according to Japan’s health ministry, the Associated Press has confirmed.


A health ministry official confirmed that they had been previously hospitalized in serious condition and had existing chronic diseases. The official spoke anonymously, citing office protocol.


Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which has built a map of coronavirus data including cases, fatalities and recoveries, also cites two deaths from the Diamond Princess, which brings the total death toll from the virus in Japan to three. Per the data, 621 cases of the virus had been identified among the 3,711 quarantined passengers and crew, making the ship the site of the most infections outside of China; one Diamond Princess passenger has recovered.


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According to Japanese broadcast outlet, NHK, the two Japanese cruise passengers who died from the virus were an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman.


The two passengers were taken to the hospital on Feb. 11 and 12, respectively, and each tested positive the day after they were admitted, Health Ministry official Masami Sakoi said. They are believed to have been infected before the ship was officially placed under quarantine on Feb. 5.


It was not immediately known why they were not tested earlier when they developed initial symptoms and consulted with the ship’s clinic, said Sakoi.


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The Japanese Health Ministry also revealed Thursday that two more government officials became infected while lending clerical support to the quarantine effort on the Diamond Princess.


Four others associated with the quarantine – an official, a paramedic who carried an infected passenger, a Health Ministry worker and an emergency relief medical expert – have also been sickened.