The Japanese government gave 2,000 iPhones to passengers stuck aboard a Diamond Princess cruise ship where nearly 200 coronavirus cases have been confirmed.
The phones were reportedly given out so passengers could download an app on which they can request medication and talk with doctors.
Without the phones, people may not have been able to download the app if their devices were registered to app stores of countries other than Japan.
The Japanese government has found a novel way to use technology as it works to combat the coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to its own backyard.
Off the coast of Japan, more than 3,500 passengers and crew members have been quarantined for more than a week aboard a Princess Cruises ship where at least 170 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.
The two-week cruise was supposed to end 10 days ago, but since Japanese health officials found several cases of the virus when the boat pulled into port, everyone has been on lockdown on their new floating home. Passengers have gotten restless, tweeting mixed reviews of the room-service food and trying to alert local media about the lack of medicine on board.
On Friday, they received a tiny bit of good news in the form of 2,000 iPhones, or one per cabin, courtesy of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare and the Japanese telecom company SoftBank, according to 9to5Mac and an earlier report by Macotakara.
The phones were distributed with a predownloaded app that allows people to request medication, arrange consultations with doctors, and receive information from health officials, according to 9to5Mac.
The SoftBank-serviced iPhones were needed because people may not have been able to download the app if their own devices were registered to app stores of countries other than Japan.
Reporting by Tyler Sonnemaker @ Business Insider