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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 30 March, 2020

'Small number' of Irish people on two cruise ships where coronavirus detected, Coveney says

The Diamond Princess ship docked in Japan has more than 450 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia which docked after many passengers tested negative for Covid-19.
The Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia which docked after many passengers tested negative for Covid-19.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A SMALL NUMBER of Irish citizens have been on docked cruise ships in Japan and Cambodia where passengers were infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney confirmed. 

Yesterday, it was confirmed that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was liaising closely with other countries regarding the consular needs of Irish citizens on board the the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan which has been in quarantine for almost two weeks. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland this morning, Simon Coveney said there were also a small number of people on a docked cruise ship in Cambodia in which one passenger was diagnosed with Covid-19. 

“We are working with Irish nationals on both of those ships with a view to making sure they are safe and if they need to be brought home that we can coordinate that and if they need medical attention,” Coveney said today. 

In Japan, the Diamond Princess cruise ship has seen more than 450 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus. More than 3,700 passengers have been quarantined on the ship for almost two weeks.

The quarantine period will conclude tomorrow. All those on board have now been tested for Covid-19.

A spokesperson for the DFA said the department is aware of “at least two” Irish citizens on board the Diamond Princess. 

A US cruise ship docked in Cambodia last Thursday after passengers tested negative for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

However, one passenger was later diagnosed with the virus, leading to authorities scrambling to track down the hundreds of people who had come into contact with the woman. 

Cambodia’s premier Hun Sen defended his decision yesterday to allow the ship to dock, saying “Cambodia has not had the disease [among its people]“.  

Simon Coveney said he was not at liberty to confirm the exact number of Irish passengers who were on each ship to respect the confidentiality of these citizens, but said it is a “small number”.

“We are talking to other EU partners about how and if we should be bringing our citizens home,” he said. “We are dealing with each case individually.”   

More than 300 US citizens were repatriated from the ship in Japan yesterday and the British government announced today it will evacuate citizens on board the ship. 

With reporting by AFP. 

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