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Coronavirus quarantine: Diamond Princess passengers begin disembarking in Japan

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Passengers begin being taken off the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Passengers begin being taken off the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)   -   Copyright  Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -   Jae C. Hong
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Passengers have started disembarking at last from a cruise ship hit by the coronavirus outbreak that has been held for two weeks of quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama.

Despite strict controls, hundreds of people tested positive for the virus while on board the Diamond Princess.

The Diamond Princess' 542 virus cases – among nearly 4,000 passengers and crew – were the most in any place outside of China.

Medical experts have called its quarantine a failure. The ship appears to have served as an incubator for the virus, instead of an isolation facility meant to prevent the worsening of an outbreak.

Only those passengers who are free of infection are being repatriated. But they face further confinement once they reach home.

In China the number of new infections has been falling outside the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Russia has said it is temporarily banning Chinese nationals from entering the country. Authorities have hospitalised hundreds of people as a precaution after they returned from China.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says although many people catch only a very mild form of the disease, a significant number – some 20 percent – become severely or critically ill.

  • 'With hindsight quarantining them elsewhere might have been better': Watch our coverage on Good Morning Europe in the video player above.