The number of COVID-19 cases aboard the cruise ship Costa Atlantica has risen to 148, nearly one out of every four crewmembers on board, according to local officials in Nagasaki.
The Atlantica is currently moored at the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. yard, where she has been undergoing a repair and refit period since late January. As she is in shipyard, no passengers are on board.
The ship's coronavirus outbreak has raised concerns among local officials that crewmember coronavirus cases could overwhelm the region's healthcare resources. On shore, Nagasaki only has a handful of infections, but Japan's coronavirus case count is rising and the need for treatment facilities in the city may rise soon. Nagasaki has appealed to the national government for additional resources in the event that the crew needs more help; so far, only two Costa Atlantica crewmembers have been hospitalized.
Some of the crewmembers who tested negative will be repatriated beginning this week, Costa Cruises told reporters, beginning with Philippine and Indonesian nationals. The departure plan calls for a chartered plane conducting multiple flights.
The origin of the outbreak aboard the Atlantica is not clear. Mitsubishi initially told investigators that the crew had been required to stay on board after March 14, but it has since acknowledged that some individuals were allowed to leave the vessel after a health screening process.
Two other Costa cruise ships, the Costa Serena and the Costa Neoromantica, were also berthed at Nagasaki. Both departed on Sunday, bound for the Philippines.