Guests on quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess will be allowed to disembark to stay in a shoreside facility.
Princess Cruises said Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation with the most medically vulnerable guests given priority.
The update came as another 44 cases of the virus were confirmed on Diamond Princess to bring the total up to 218.
A Princess Cruises spokesperson said: ”Princess Cruises has been informed that over the next several days, Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility.
“From the information available it is our understanding that this will be a phased approach, with the most medically vulnerable guests in the first phase, including older adults with pre-existing health conditions.
“According to officials, guests in the first group will be tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus. If the test is positive, they will be transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and isolation. If the test is negative, they will be given the option to leave the ship and be transported to a quarantine housing facility.
“These are the details provided by health officials about the temporary facilities:
• The housing facility includes individual rooms and individual bathrooms
• There are no clinics at these facilities. Prescription medication will be provided, but medical care will require transport to a hospital or clinic.
• The food available will not accommodate dietary preferences but will accommodate certain medical conditions. The meals provided will be Japanese bento-style boxes. No Western meals will be available.
“Princess Cruises confirmed that all guests on Diamond Princess remain welcome to stay onboard through to the end of the quarantine period.
“Princess Cruises also confirms the announcement, from Japan health officials, of 44 new positive cases of Coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess.”
In a letter sent to the ship’s crew, Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said the line was “deeply grateful” and “incredibly proud” of staff on Diamond Princess.
She revealed that crew would receive two months paid leave for “much needed rest” once they had left the quarantined ship.
“We will also handle your flights to return home and your job will be protected to return for another contract,” she added.