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U.S. To Evacuate Americans From Virus-Struck Diamond Princess Cruise Ship

Passengers walk along the deck of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined on-board due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus.
Image credit: Charly Triballeau

The U.S. State Department is sending a charter plane to evacuate Americans aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that is in quarantine in Japan.

On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo sent a letter to U.S. citizens aboard the ship informing them of the planned extraction from Japan that is scheduled for Sunday night.

Once they are back in the U.S., all passengers from the cruise ship will be forced to undergo another period of quarantine at either Travis Air Force Base in California or Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

“Travelers returning to the United States from high-risk areas are required to undergo quarantine. Accordingly, you will need to undergo further quarantine of 14 days when you arrive in the United States. We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation and will provide all the assistance we can to support the quarantine process.”

The quarantine of the cruise ship and its 3,600 passengers is set to end on Feb. 19. But as more cases have been identified on board, it’s unclear whether Japan’s ministry of health will extend the quarantine.

If U.S. citizens wait for the ship’s quarantine to end and choose not take the charter flight, the State Department told them “you will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time.”

The State Department added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would make a final decision on when passengers would be allowed to return to the U.S. if they did not take the charter plane.

Another 67 people aboard the ship tested positive for the coronavirus, Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato announced on Saturday. Nearly 300 people aboard the ship have tested positive for the virus.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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