The global death toll from the novel coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 has surpassed 2,000, with a total of 74,100 cases confirmed in mainland China and another 1,000 cases worldwide, health officials said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says roughly 800 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have begun to disembark the vessel after their 14-day quarantine came to an end on Wednesday. Another 79 new cases of the virus were confirmed by Japanese health officials making it a total of 624 cases that have been linked to the cruise ship that's been quarantined off the coast of Japan since Feb. 4.
Health officials say a few hundred passengers are expected to leave each day over the next few days. Only those passengers who test negative for the virus will be allowed to leave.
"A certificate that indicates a negative COVID-19 test result is expected to be granted by Japanese health authorities to exit the ship," the cruise line said in a statement.
The CDC say more than 100 U.S. citizens are still on the ship or in hospitals in Japan. The situation aboard the ship prompted the CDC to issue travel restrictions for the those aboard the ship, letting them know they must wait 14-days before they will be allowed to board a flight back to the U.S.
"After disembarkation from the Diamond Princess, these passengers and crew will be required to wait 14 days without having symptoms or a positive coronavirus test result before they are permitted to board flights to the United States.
"If an individual from this cruise arrives in the United States before the 14-day period ends, they will still be subject to a mandatory quarantine until they have completed the 14-day period with no symptoms or positive coronavirus test results," the CDC added.
More than 300 Americans were evacuated from the cruise ship on Sunday and are currently in a 14-day federal quarantine at two U.S. air bases.
In the Hubei Province in China, where the outbreak is thought to have originated, another 136 deaths were reported by China's National Health Commission on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,004 in the mainland. Another 74,100 cases have been confirmed in China.
Hong Kong reported its second death from the novel coronavirus. The patient a 70-year-old man who had underlying illnesses, was one of the 62 confirmed cases in the city, a Princess Margaret Hospital spokeswoman told NBC News.
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