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Japan completes virus testing for quarantined ship

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All passengers and crew on board a ship quarantined off Japan have now been tested for the new coronavirus, the government said Tuesday, as more countries moved to evacuate citizens from the boat.

South Korea became the latest to announce it would remove its citizens from the Diamond Princess, where more than 400 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

Japan has faced criticism for its handling of the situation, with dozens of new infections detected almost daily since the ship arrived in early February.

But it has defended its approach and health minister Katsunobu Kato insisted again Tuesday that passengers who test negative will be allowed to leave the ship from Wednesday.

“We have done tests for everyone (on the ship),” he told reporters.

“Some results have already come out… and for those whose test results are already clear, we are working to prepare disembarkation from the 19th,” he said.

Around 12 percent of the people on board the Diamond Princess have no tested positive for the new coronavirus

Kato said the process would last two or three days.

But those who had close contact with people who have tested positive will have their quarantine reset to the date of their last contact with an infected person.

Crew are also expected to remain to observe another quarantine period after the last passengers leave the ship.

So far, the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and now South Korea have said they will evacuate their citizens from the ship.

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