On Thursday, an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, both of Japanese nationality and with previous health complications, became the first two victims of COVID-19 among the Diamond Princess passengers.
A total of 621 people on board the ship have been confirmed to be infected with the virus - more than any country aside from China.
- Indonesia is "devoted" to evacuating 74 of its nationals from the Diamond Princess cruise, a senior minister said on Thursday. four Indonesians who've been part of the crew on the cruise liner have been contaminated with the coronavirus, in keeping with a overseas ministry official.
Two elderly passengers taken off the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess because they were infected with the new virus have died, Japan's Health Ministry said Thursday, becoming the first fatalities from the virus-stricken vessel.
Disembarked Japanese passengers, however, face no such restrictions, a decision that has sparked concern.
He believed that all Hong Kong passengers would leave the ship on Friday, but a "small number" of them would not take the chartered flight. He told a news conference that after measures were put in place to isolate passengers on February 5, the number of new infections fell.
He explained his criticism in a widely shared YouTube video which he has since taken offline.
"One time we went out when they told us we could go out on deck to walk around but then we figured it was too risky to do that because we could be walking around beside people who had the virus", she said. Macao had reported 10 infections with six recoveries.
In the World Health Organisation (WHO) briefing on Thursday, director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said: "You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this Covid-19 outbreak".
China reported another fall in new virus cases as health officials expressed continued optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths but has grown elsewhere. Of those, 16,465 have recovered, according to Worldometers.
There are more than 1,000 cases outside of China with the biggest cluster on the Diamond Princess in Japan, followed by Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Japan now has three coronavirus-related deaths.
China's count of 889 cases brought its total to 75,465.
Of those, about 70% have been linked to a Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where two recent services were attended by a previously confirmed patient.
"They will be released from isolation today back into the usual accommodation blocks that we have set aside for the Japanese cohort", Stephens said.
Authorities in Daegu have also warned of the possibility of more infections in coming days and asked people in the city to stay indoors.