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Passengers are seen on the deck of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, at the Daikaku Pier Cruise Terminal, in Yokohama port, on Feb. 13, 2020.

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese authorities might soon allow people quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship near Tokyo, where 12 Canadians have contracted the novel coronavirus, to disembark and finish out their isolation on land.

The 3,500 passengers on the ship have been under quarantine since last week, and so far 218 have tested positive for the disease, which the World Health Organization has dubbed COVID-19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says it’s the biggest concentration of confirmed cases outside of mainland China.

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Champagne says emergency response teams and consular officials are in Japan to make sure Canadians are receiving the help they need, including the ability to contact their families back home.

Canada has also dispatched health officials to Japan to co-ordinate with local public health authorities.

Champagne says approximately 250 Canadians on another ship off the shore of Cambodia have tested negative for the coronavirus and will be returned to Canada at the cruise line’s expense.

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The total number of deaths at the epicenter of the coronavirus, in Hubei province, rose to 1,310 after 242 new deaths were announced. Reuters

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