138 Indians quarantined at coronavirus-hit Japanese ship cannot be extracted: Govt

138 Indians quarantined at coronavirus-hit Japanese ship cannot be extracted: Govt

Indians stuck at the coronavirus-hit Japanese cruise ship, off the coast of Tokyo, cannot be extracted, Union Health Minister Dr Harshavardhan has said.

Addressing a press conference on the situation and monitoring of deadly coronavirus in India and abroad, Health Minister Dr Harshavardhan on Thursday said that the Indian aboard the cruise ship cannot be taken out as they have been quarantined in the larger interest of preventing the spread of the virus.

"People have been quarantined on the ship as per Japan government rules. The positive cases on the ship have been hospitalised by the Japanese authorities. The rest will remain in quarantine till February 19. We can’t just tell them to take out only our men, it is being done in the larger interest," Dr Harshavardhan said.

The Japanese cruise ship had a total 3,711 people on board, out of which 138 are Indian. The ship was quarantined at Port of Yokohama early last week after a passenger who de-boarded last month in Hong Kong was found to be the carrier of the virus on the ship.

Earlier External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had informed that two Indian crew onboard the cruise ship 'Diamond Princess' have tested positive for the coronavirus infection. He said that the Indian mission in Tokyo was providing all assistance to the crew and passengers of the cruise ship.

"Our Embassy @IndianEmbTokyo is in constant touch with the crew and passengers of Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan, rendering all necessary support & assistance. Passengers & crew are currently quarantined by Japanese authorities," he said.

Briefing the media about India's preparedness to combat coronavirus, the health minister said that the stock of medicines India has to fight the deadly virus will only last two to three months. However, he said, that the shipping minister has confirmed that they have received an extra stocking of medicines for the next 2-3 months.

Meanwhile, India has banned the export of N-95 masks, which are reportedly effective in avoiding air-borne COVID-19.