USA planes heading home with those from cruise ship

Yolanda Curtis
February 18, 2020

There was a total of 340 Americans on board, and had all been quarantined on the cruise ship in Yokohama for almost two weeks.

On Sunday, the U.S. chartered two planes and flew home 328 of its citizens while other countries, including Canada, Hong Kong and Australia, have said they are organising flights to remove people from the ship.

Passengers on the two flights landed either at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas or at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, California, roughly 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

China has recently updated the number of COVID-19 cases to 70,635, which incldues 1,772 deaths.

The Diamond Princess has been stuck in the Yokohama harbor since February 3, after the cruise company learned a passenger from Hong Kong had tested positive for the new coronavirus after disembarking last month.

Some 40 Americans who are infected on the cruise were not part of the evacuation, as they will stay in Japan for treatment.

The U.S. said it arranged the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that an infected person who shows minimal symptoms could still pass the virus to someone else.

The Australians will be quarantined for a further 14 days in Darwin and the New Zealanders on the ship had been told that would need to be quarantined in New Zealand because of the infection rate on the ship, Ardern said. "Our staff in Tokyo, including the Ambassador, have been in regular contact with the British passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess and we have also been speaking to families in the United Kingdom".

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the second quarantine is necessary due to the rate the disease is spreading on the ship.

The Indian Embassy here said in a statement that 99 new positive cases on-board Diamond Princess have been confirmed on February 17, bringing the total number to 454.

The Diamond Princess has been in lockdown in Yokohama for about a fortnight with about 3700 passengers but the virus has spread.

"We are glad to be going home", Cheryl Molesky earlier told NHK TV in Japan.

"So we've been anything but bored during this time of the quarantine", he continued. Many of them remain in hospitals around Japan.

"It is what it is", she said.

One of the Americans, Matthew Smith, said in a tweet on Sunday that he saw a passenger with no face mask talking at close quarters with another passenger.

Yesterday the Foreign Office said that "all options" were being urgently considered, to guarantee the safety of those on board.

Smith said he and his wife made a decision to stay on the ship.

"That did get to me a bit".

Mrs Abel said: "Before anybody says I look exhausted - I am exhausted, and the reason being because the Americans didn't leave here until the early hours of the morning and we'd been in bed several hours".

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