Last Updated 7 months ago
The remaining 3,500 passengers and crew are confined to their cabins with questions mounting about whether the quarantine is working.
Japan said today that some elderly passengers will be moved off the ship if they test negative for the virus, and quarantined in government housing instead.
Japan initially screened all 3,711 passengers and crew last week after an 80-year-old passenger who left the ship in January was confirmed to have the virus.
Nearly 300 people were selected for further tests because they showed symptoms or had contact with known patients, resulting in 61 initial positive tests.
Since then, the tests have expanded to those who had contact with the infected passengers, producing a spiralling number of confirmed cases.
Today's 44 new cases came from a batch of 221 new tests, with 43 passengers and one crew member found to be infected.
Twenty-nine of the new patients are Japanese, local media said.
Three Britons are known to be among the 218 people infected so far, including honeymooner Alan Steele who was taken to hospital on the mainland.
Mr Steele said today that he had tested negative for the virus, and would be declared free of the bug if he passed a further test which was carried out today.
Medics can currently test a maximum of 300 people a day but hope to be expand their capacity to 1,000 per day.
Health minister Katsunobu Kato said authorities now want to move elderly people off the ship before the quarantine ends on February 19 if they test negative for the virus.
Cruise operator Princess said that passengers aged 80 or older who had a cabin without a balcony or had chronic medical conditions would be eligible for the move.
‘Guests who test positive will be disembarked to a medical facility ashore to continue their quarantine,' a statement said.
‘Those who have been in close contact with the guests who tested positive cannot disembark at this time.