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Expert raps Japan govt response to virus outbreak on cruise ship

  • March 4, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 9:10 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 4 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese group that organized a Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Team for the Diamond Princess cruise liner criticized the government’s response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus on the ship on Wednesday.

“The virus spread as crew members continued working as usual,” Manabu Yamazaki, chairman of the Japan Psychiatric Hospitals Association told a press conference on the DPAT activities on the cruise ship quarantined at the port of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo.

On Feb. 7, DPAT members started offering mental health-related assistance to Diamond Princess passengers, while wearing protective suits and face masks, according to the association.

But such on-board activities were called off after the Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control judged it dangerous for outsiders to be on the ship, the association said. On Feb. 19, the team started offering support for passengers by phone.

Yamazaki said that “the virus spread as crew members engaged in work such as preparing meals for passengers” after passengers were asked to stay in their own cabins.

As a result, “virus-free green zones turned into dangerous red zones,” which are potentially contaminated by the virus, he said.

He criticized the government for not introducing unified infection control rules to deal with an onboard viral outbreak. It should have assigned specialists to draw up such rules, he said.

A doctor who entered the ship as a DPAT member contracted the virus.

Virus tests were not conducted for the members when they disembarked from the ship, on the grounds that they were wearing protective suits and face masks while on board. Yamazaki called on the government to test all DPAT members working aboard the ship.

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