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US to evacuate American citizens aboard quarantined cruise ship in Japan

15 Feb 2020
About 380 people will be offered seats on two evacuation flights from Japan back to the United States. (AFP)
About 380 people will be offered seats on two evacuation flights from Japan back to the United States. (AFP)
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Updated 15 Feb 2020
15 Feb 2020

The US State Department will evacuate some American citizens and their families aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the biggest cluster of coronavirus infections outside China, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

About 380 people will be offered seats on two evacuation flights from Japan back to the United States, the Journal said, citing an official of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The evacuees will arrive in the United States as early as Sunday, the newspaper said, citing Henry Walke, director of the CDC’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections.

The CDC was not immediately available for comment. Officials at Japan’s foreign ministry and health ministry were also not available for a comment.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp , has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama, Japan, on Feb. 3, with 3,500 passengers and crew on board, of whom 218 have tested positive for the coronavirus infection.

The liner was quarantined in Yokohama after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.

Those who have tested positive for the virus have been taken off the ship to hospital.

Japan said on Saturday it was coordinating with the US government for American citizens to leave the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess and return home on U.S.-chartered flights.

The Japanese government believes the steps taken by the United States will ease Japan’s burden regarding the medical response to the situation on the Diamond Princess and it appreciates these measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The US said earlier on Saturday it would send an aircraft to Japan to bring back US passengers on the Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred.

However, a Japanese government official told reporters on Saturday that citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who are confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus will not be taken back to the United States on a planned charter flight.

Another government official at the same briefing said it was possible other countries would follow the United States and ask to bring back their own citizens aboard the Diamond Princess before the quarantine period ends on Feb. 19.

The United States said earlier on Saturday it would send an aircraft to Japan to bring back U.S. passengers on the Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred

Reuters

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