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Italy, Canada and others to evacuate citizens from cruise ship quarantined in Japan

17 Feb 2020
Buses next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama port, Japan, Feb. 16, 2020. (AFP)
Buses next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama port, Japan, Feb. 16, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 18 Feb 2020
17 Feb 2020

Arab News

In the latest wave of evacuations, Italy announced Sunday that it would evacuate citizens from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship being held under quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama, after 355 people from it were found to be infected with the virus.

“We decided yesterday to send a flight and bring those 35 Italians home,” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Twitter on Sunday.

South Korea announced earlier it would also evacuate Koreans from the ship.

“The government plans to bring those Koreans home if they are tested negative from screenings by the Japanese authorities and are willing to return,” Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo told a briefing.

The Canadian government said in a statement late on Saturday it has chartered a plane to evacuate its citizens who are on the ship.

Canadian passengers who exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus infection will not be permitted to board the flight and will instead be transferred to the Japanese health care system to receive appropriate care, the government said.

After arriving in Canada, the passengers will undergo a 14-day period of quarantine, the statement added.

The United States and Hong Kong have said they will send aircraft to Japan to bring back passengers from the quarantined cruise ship, which has seen the most coronavirus infections outside of China.

The cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp, and carrying some 3,700 passengers and crew, has been quarantined in Yokohama since Feb. 3 after a man, who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan, was diagnosed with the virus.

Australia will evacuate more than 200 of its citizens onboard a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship being held under quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.

Morrison said the passengers will depart on Wednesday and will be taken to Australia’s tropical north, where they will be required to be quarantined for another 14 days.

More than 350 passengers onboard the Diamond Princess have tested positive for coronavirus, including 24 Australians.

“For those more than 200 Australians who will be returning to Australia, we are going to have to require a further 14-day quarantine period to be put in place on their return to Darwin,” Morrison told reporters in Melbourne.

Morrison also said space on the Qantas Airways plane will be provided for an unspecified number of New Zealand citizens on the cruise ship.

Those passengers will be transferred to New Zealand when they arrive in Darwin, Morrison said.

Despite passengers’ spending two weeks confined to their cabins, some of which were windowless, Australian health officials said a further quarantine period was necessary.

“Given there has been recent cases, we cannot be absolutely sure that any of the currently well people on the ship who are coming home on Wednesday are not carrying the virus,” said Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer.

Taiwan said on Tuesday it would charter a plane to evacuate its citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise liner quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Four Taiwanese nationals on the ship have tested positive for the virus, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters, adding that the government was still discussing the details and timing of the evacuation with Japanese officials.

“All Taiwanese citizens on board the cruise ship, including passengers and staff, will need to take the chartered plane and observe related quarantine measures if they want to return to the country,” Chen said

More than 20 Taiwanese are on the stricken vessel, which has seen the most coronavirus infections outside China.

*With Reuters

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