Around 100 other passengers were allowed to disembark from the coronavirus-infested cruise ship Diamond Princess on Saturday when Japan's health minister apologized after 23 others were allowed to leave without proper screening.
The news came when a Japanese woman who left the ship on Wednesday tested positive for the virus when she returned to Tochigi Prefecture, Kyodo News Agency said, citing the prefectural government.
She is the first person in the group of approximately 970 passengers who disembarked earlier this week to test positive for the virus.
The 100 passengers who left on Saturday had close contact with infected people on board, according to local media.
They included the last group of Japanese passengers leaving the ship while some foreign passengers were still waiting on board for their governments to send chartered planes.
Television recordings showed a driver in a white protective suit driving a bus with the curtains drawn so that the passengers could not be identified.
They are quarantined near Tokyo for two weeks, officials said.
An official apology
At a press conference on Saturday, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato apologized that 23 passengers were allowed to leave the ship without having undergone all the necessary tests.
"We deeply regret that our operational failure caused the situation," said Kato, adding that the passengers would be tested again.
With the last disembarkation, a 14-day quarantine for more than 1,000 crew members still on board is expected to begin.
Many of them were not placed in isolation as they were needed to keep the ship going – preparing food and delivering meals to cabins. Critics have accused them of accidentally spreading the virus throughout the ship, where more than 600 cases of potentially fatal COVID-19 disease have occurred.
Kato defended Japan's quarantine on board and told a television show on Saturday that there was no medical facility large enough to accommodate more than 3,000 people at a time.
At the press conference, Kato said six Australian passengers had tested positive after leaving Japan.
Meanwhile, 18 repatriated Americans and an Israeli who has returned from the ship have completed positive tests, authorities from both countries said on Friday.
Kato also confirmed that a Japanese hospital on Saturday used the anti-influenza drug Avigan, also known as favipiravir, to treat a patient infected with the virus.
Earlier in the day, Kato said the government would push for the use of such drugs if it was confirmed to be effective.
Outside the Diamond Princess, 105 cases of the new corona virus were observed in Japan.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)