Coronavirus: British passenger says quarantined cruise ship in Japan has turned into a 'ghost town'

The Diamond Princess anchored in Yokohama Port (AP)

A Briton quarantined onboard a cruise ship in Japan amid coronavirus fears, said the ship resembles a “ghost town”.

David Abel, who is onboard the Diamond Princess with his wife Sally, is one of 3,000 passengers being screened at the port of Yokohama after a tourist from Hong Kong tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Abel was due to fly home to the UK on Monday but had to cancel their flight after they were not allowed to leave.

The couple, from Woodford Halse in Oxfordshire, now have an open return, as they do not know when the quarantine will be lifted.

“We didn’t get much sleep last night, as we were waiting for that knock on the door to be checked,” he said.

A team of quarantine officials and medical staff boarded the ship on Monday night and began medical checks of everyone on board (AP)

They had their temperatures taken, asked if they had a cough and if they were taking any medication to reduce their temperature.

“The ship is like a ghost town, it’s really weird,” he said.

“I went for a walk around a part of the ship that is normally really busy – the musicians were still out playing, but where there normally would have been crowds of people, I saw maybe 20.

“Even the shopping areas where it would be packed are empty.”

The quarantine began after an 80-year-old man boarded the ship, run by Carnival Japan, in Japan and disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January.

As part of the screening process passengers said masked health workers clad in blue plastic gowns have been walking down empty corridors as well as views of deserted lounges and a barren deck.

Guests awaiting screening were asked to stay in their rooms, where they answered a questionnaire and had their temperatures taken.

Medics in protective suits scouring the cruise ship (Reuters)

Onboard announcements later in the day said about 70% of the health checks had been completed and activities were operating normally except for the casino, shops and photo studio.

Family members of those onboard expressed concern for their relatives, with on tweeting: "Unaffected people can easily say 'keep them out' but my whole family wants my precious sister to come home safe."

The operator of the cruise ship confirmed authorities are currently reviewing the health of all 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board.

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A spokesperson said the process had been delayed by around 24 but they were hopeful of letting passengers leave the ship soon.

About half of those on board were Japanese, a company spokeswoman said.

The Japanese government said that once everyone's health was checked, those with fevers or who felt unwell would be tested, after which authorities would decide whether to let people leave the ship.

Thousands of passengers have been assessed by medical staff. (Reuters)

A health ministry official said not everyone would be tested with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits because it was too time-consuming and deemed unnecessary.

Japan has 20 confirmed coronavirus cases, of these 17 people have been in Wuhan. And on Saturday, Japan began refusing entry to foreigners who have been in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, in the past 14 days as well as people with passports issued in Hubei.

Suga said that as of Monday, eight foreigners had been barred from entering Japan.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary panel the government would be flexible about expanding areas in China from which visitors would be banned, depending on trends in China.

Some countries including the US and Australia have denied entry to all foreign nationals travelling from China.