As Japanese health officials begin the second day of offloading passengers and crew from the 'Diamond Princess' cruise ship that has been under quarantine in Yokohama for the last two weeks, the Japanese press is reporting that two passengers from the ship have died.
The report cites unidentified government officials.
Even as roughly 600 passengers disembarked on Wednesday, Japanese officials announced 79 more confirmed cases aboard the ship on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infected to 621 - the largest outbreak outside mainland China.
In the US, the CDC has questioned the wisdom of Japanese officials, and accused them of failing to properly quarantine the ship, particularly after 14 passengers found to be carrying the virus were allowed onto a US evacuation flight.
All of the passengers leaving the ship have reportedly been tested for the COVID-19, according to the cruise line. Several hundred other passengers who aren't taking repatriation flights to their home countries are expected to leave the ship on Thursday, and it's unclear what will happen to them after that. Most of the passengers will be ferried back to their home countries, where they will face another two weeks of quarantine.
Japanese health officials are expected to begin offloading more passengers shortly (since it's already mid-morning on Thursday in Tokyo). It's not clear how these deaths will affect the process, if at all.
These are the first deaths since Hong Kong reported its second death and Iran reported two virus-related deaths. It brings the death toll ex-China to 9. They marked the second and thirds deaths in Japan, respectively.