© Reuters. sAn aerial view shows Italian cruise ship Costa Atlantica in Nagasaki, Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Fourteen more coronavirus infections have been confirmed on the Italian cruise ship Costa Atlantica docked for repairs in Japan, a local official said on Thursday, bringing the total to at least 48.

Half of them were cooks and the other half staff in charge of serving food to the crew, the official told a livestreamed news conference.

The Costa Atlantica infections come after the cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama two months ago, where more than 700 passengers and crew were found to be infected, although this time only crew members were on board.

The Costa Cruises-operated ship was taken into a shipyard in Nagasaki city in western Japan in late February by a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries after the COVID-19 pandemic had scuttled plans for scheduled repairs in China.

The latest cases have raised concern about the potential impact on Nagasaki residents after revelations some crew had left the restricted area despite assurances from the ship operator that they would stay within the wharf, according to Nagasaki officials.

The Italian cruise ship is carrying 623 crew members and no passengers. Officials said they hoped to eventually test all on board.

As of Wednesday, 34 had tested positive for the new coronavirus. One member who had previously been transferred to a local hospital was now in a serious condition and on a ventilator, the official said.

Japan has seen more than 11,500 infections and close to 300 deaths from the new coronavirus, excluding figures from the Diamond Princess.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html)

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