Another 99 cases of coronavirus have today been confirmed on board the Diamond Princess, with hundreds of passengers still in the dark over when they will leave.
The dozens of new cases bring the total on board the ship to 454 just two days before the quarantine is due to end.
The latest cases were revealed today after another batch of 504 tests, with 70 of the 99 new patients not showing any symptoms of the virus.
The remaining hundreds of passengers were expecting to leave the ship when the two-week lockdown ends on Wednesday.
But the arrangements are still highly uncertain, meaning that passengers could have to stay on board beyond the end of the quarantine.
Princess Cruises say they are being ‘led by Japanese authorities’ and are waiting for foreign governments and embassies to say how they will retrieve their citizens.
The US has already evacuated more than 300 of its citizens with Australia, Canada and others also lining up rescue flights, but the UK is still considering its options despite growing frustration from British passengers.
Two buses arrive next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama yesterday where another 99 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed today
Passengers have been confined to their cabins in a two-week lockdown in Yokohama which is scheduled to end on Wednesday, February 19.
The ship was quarantined by Japanese authorities with 3,711 people on board after a Hong Kong passenger who left the ship last month tested positive for the virus.
A total of 1,723 of those people have now been tested, of whom 454 have been found to have the virus.
The cruise ship is already the largest cluster of cases outside China and the spiralling numbers have caused growing concern among passengers.
It was not clear whether the latest figures included 14 US citizens who tested positive but were allowed to fly home this morning.
They were among 340 US citizens who were evacuated on a charter flight early today, with Canada, Australia and others poised to follow suit.
But British passengers are among hundreds still in limbo with the Foreign Office ‘urgently considering its options’ today.
US passengers wearing masks look out from the window of a coach which took them from the Yokohama port to an airport from which they flew across the Pacific
Health officials in protective suits on a shuttle bus transporting U.S. passengers who have chosen to leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship
British passenger David Abel said it ‘feels that we have been forgotten’ as he urged the UK government to airlift its citizens out of Yokohama.
‘UK Government – don’t you want your country people, British people, home? Are you closing the borders because you don’t want us home?,’ he asked.
Fellow British passenger Alan Steele, who was taken to hospital on the mainland after testing positive, directly urged the Prime Minister to order an evacuation flight.
‘I think it is about time Boris got the Brits back to England as the Japanese are being totally incompetent and do not realise you cannot keep people in solitary confinement for 28 days without damaging their mental health,’ he declared.
It is understood that a repatriation flight is one of a number of options being considered by the Government.
Medical staff wearing protective suits are seen at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal where the Diamond Princess is anchored
Another 99 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on board the Diamond Princess, taking the total on the quarantined cruise ship to 454
Japan’s health ministry says everyone with a negative test result will be asked to leave the ship on February 19, according to broadcaster NHK.
Princess Cruises says it is being ‘led by Japanese authorities’ and the ship’s crew are waiting to hear from foreign embassies ahead of Wednesday’s deadline.
The ship’s captain told passengers today: ‘I want to reassure you that we are coordinating closely with our embassies to understand the arrangements for you once you are cleared from the quarantine and how we can best support you.
‘In the meantime we continue to work with the Japanese ministry of health to seek updates on their intentions.
‘I understand that you have more and more questions relating to the disembarkation procedures and your return home as we get closer to the 19th.
‘The entire Princess Cruises team here on board and on shore is working tirelessly to coordinate with all the various national authorities and get information to you.
‘I will get back to you with more details as soon as possible.’
The captain’s announcement was shared on social media by one of the passengers on board.
Princess Cruises has already offered passengers a full refund and promised they will not be charged for services on board.
An aeroplane chartered by the U.S. government takes off at Haneda airport in Tokyo with Americans tourists who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship
A bus carrying US citizens leaves the Daikaku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port early today after Washington organised an airlift
The American evacuees were transferred onto coaches early this morning via a makeshift passport control before they were loaded onto two planes.
The first flight touched down at Travis Air Force Base in California shortly before midnight, with the second heading for Texas.
Those on board were expected to face a further 14 days in quarantine on US soil.
At least another 11 elderly passengers have left the ship to finish the quarantine in Japanese government housing on the mainland.
Only certain passengers, who were aged over 80 and had windowless cabins or separate medical conditions, were eligible for the move.
About 80 per cent of the ship’s passengers are 60 or older, with 215 in their 80s and 11 in their 90s, according to Japanese media.
With 454 patients, 340 Americans and 11 elderly passengers either off the ship or about to be, the number still on board has fallen from 3,711 to around 2,900.
On land, cases in Japan have risen to 65, with authorities warning that the outbreak is entering a ‘new phase’ and advising people to avoid large gatherings.
A public celebration of the new emperor’s birthday on Sunday has been scrapped over virus fears.
In addition, organisers of the Tokyo Marathon on March 1 have cancelled the amateur part of the race for 38,000 runners.