Chinese state media has reported that seven river cruise ships have been brought into the city of Wuhan in Hubei province. These ships are going to be converted into temporary accommodations for medical staff in the city. Thousands of medical workers from all over China have been brought (and are still being brought) into Hubei to help the province contain the outbreak.
Xinhua News reported that the ships normally operated as river cruises in the Three Gorges, a popular and scenic tourist area along the Yangtze River. However, now the cruise ship business in the Three Gorges has been closed due to the outbreak.
This move has come amid heightened scrutiny concerns after hundreds of passengers on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship contracted the new coronavirus.
The first of these ships is called the Blue Whale. It arrived in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, from Yichang, a nearby city down the Yangtze River. The seven ships will provide beds for 1,469 medical workers in total.
The Diamond Princess, held under quarantine in Yokohoma, Japan, since 3 Feb 2020, has reported more than 630 cases of coronavirus. So far, this has been the biggest infection cluster outside China. The state media reported that the ships are expected to provide safe dining as well as living conditions for medics to keep them refreshed as they fight the epidemic.
Several countries have already evacuated scores of passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. It carried about 3,700 people. A second group of Chinese citizens from Hong Kong were among those who have been flown home from Japan.