TOKYO – A Japanese doctor critical of quarantine management on the Diamond Princess cruise said on Thursday that it would be appropriate for people leaving the ship to undergo a new quarantine to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Kentaro Iwata, spoke to reporters via video call from the unspecified place where he has sought a voluntarily two-week isolation Tuesday after visiting the Diamond Princess cruise, whose management he described as “chaotic” and “inadequate.”
“I think people in Japan should do the same thing they are doing in the United States, Hong Kong, Canada or South Korea, isolation or monitoring for at least the next 14 days,” Iwata, who previously treated patients during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola outbreaks, said during the conference on infectious diseases at Kobe University Hospital.
“I am afraid of spreading this disease to others. I do not want my family nor my patients to contract it,” said the doctor, who claimed to have taken the measures for his own health and safety. He didn’t recommend that passengers do the same but said it would be convenient they be tracked.
Following his visit, Iwata published critical videos regarding the quarantine’s management, which went viral. Authorities responded by publishing a report with the data of the infections and measures adopted in which they defend their management and coordination with Japan’s Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control.
Iwata had removed the videos – with more than 1.5 million views in its Japanese version and more than 300,000 in English – Thursday morning because “the measures changed” after they had been published and said “the role of YouTube has ended.”
The doctor said, however, that his opinion on the management had not changed.
“I think the procedure was not completely adequate,” said Iwata, who highlighted the non-existent separation between infected areas and virus-free zones, and the inadequate management of the crew situation, which could be the source of some infections.
The specialist said he is not against quarantining people aboard the cruise, but with the way it was carried out.
“You have to have a very clear idea of where the virus can be and where it is not, because viruses are invisible … Modify your techniques based on that separation,” he said, adding that this was the only way to effectively prevent the spread. the Japanese.
That distinction between what is clean and what is not “was very clear when we were fighting in Africa against Ebola, but not in the Diamond Princess,” where, in his opinion, the management was taking place from a Bureaucratic and non-scientific point of view.
While Iwata spoke to journalists, the death from coronavirus of two octogenarian passengers was announced.
“Many older people travel on cruises and many suffer from chronic diseases, it doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “My intention was to change what was happening inside the cruise, not to criticize anyone personally or institutionally.”
Iwata, who said that other than the management of cases on the ship (where 621 infections have been detected from the more than 3,700 people initially on board), the government “is doing a great job” and the infections are being tracked.
Hundreds aboard left the ship Wednesday, and about 1,000 more are expected off Thursday through Friday after testing negative in analyses.