A Japanese disease expert who inspected the Diamond Princess said he was 'so scared' of catching the coronavirus because hygiene on the cruise ship was so bad




A Japanese disease expert who inspected the Diamond Princess said he was \
A Japanese disease expert who inspected the Diamond Princess said he was \'so scared\' of catching the coronavirus because hygiene on the cruise ship was so bad  


NHK/YouTube/Kentato Iwata

  • A Japanese disease expert who inspected the Diamond Princess said hygiene on the quarantined cruise ship was so bad that he was genuinely "so scared" of contracting the novel coronavirus on board.

  • Professor Kentaro Iwata, who was on the ground during the Ebola and SARS outbreaks, said he "never had fear" of getting infected by those diseases, but was terrified of getting the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess.

  • The ship and its passengers have been quarantined in Yokohama Bay since February 3, though some governments evacuated their citizens this week.

  • As of Tuesday, 542 passengers have tested positive for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

  • In a video posted on YouTube Tuesday, Iwata described "completely inadequate" infection controls and said "everybody" on board "was not careful about it."

  • A Japanese health official hit back at Iwata's remarks, saying the ship was in good hands.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Japanese disease expert who inspected the Diamond Princess cruise ship said the hygiene conditions and disease controls on board were so bad, he was "so scared" of contracting the novel coronavirus himself.

The ship and all its passengers have been quarantined in Yokohama Bay, near Tokyo, since February 3. The number of infections on the ship have steadily risen, with 542 cases recorded as of Tuesday.

Professor Kentaro Iwata, head of the Infectious Diseases department at Kobe University Hospital and a member of Japan's Disaster Medical Assistance Team, spent Tuesday monitoring the ship's conditions.

Iwata - who helped fight Ebola and SARS from Africa and China during those outbreaks - described the Diamond Princess as being "completely inadequate" and medics on board being callous about the disease.


Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

"The cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of the infection control," Iwata said in a video blog posted to YouTube late Tuesday.

"There was no distinction between the green zone, which is free of infection, and the red zone, which is potentially contaminated by the virus."

"I've dealt with a lot of infections - for more than 20 years - and I was in Africa dealing with the Ebola outbreak, other countries dealing with Cholera outbreak I was in China in 2003 dealing with SARS," he said.

"I never had fear of getting infection myself for Ebola, SARS, Cholera, because I know how to protect myself, and how to protect others, and how infection control should be."

"But inside Princess Diamond I was so scared. I was so scared of getting COVID-19, because there was no way to tell where the virus is," he said. "No green zone, no red zone. Everywhere could have virus and everybody was not careful about it."


Reuters/Issei Kato

Iwata also described seeing medical professionals on the ship taking what he considered inadequate measures to contain and prevent the virus.

He said he saw medics reusing their protective gear - or personal protective equipment (PPE) - as well as eating and touching their phones with the same gloves they used to examine the ship and patients.

"People were eating in one place, people were wearing PPE, in old PPE, and eating lunch with gloves on and just dealing with the smartphone in PPE," Iwata said.

Watch Iwata's full video here:

Japan's health authorities hit back at Iwata's statement, telling the Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday that it was a "misconception" that the ship was not in the hands of qualified professionals.

Fears that the Diamond Princess was carrying the coronavirus were sparked last month after one passenger tested positive for the virus after he disembarked the cruise in Hong Kong in late January. Some 3,700 passengers and crew had still been on the ship at the time.

Multiple health experts said earlier this month that quarantining hundreds of people on the Diamond Princess could actually be contributing to the spread in coronavirus cases, Business Insider's Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported.

  • Read more:

  • I've been traveling in Asia for 3 weeks amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak, and actually catching the virus is far from my biggest fear

  • Hubei is sweeping the province for undetected coronavirus cases by tracking and investigating purchases of fever and cough medicine

  • The cruise industry has been rocked by the coronavirus. Here's you how can find out if your ship has been impacted.

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