U.S. to evacuate Americans from virus-hit ship near Tokyo: media

Feb 15 , 2020. 3 minutes ago – 12:36 KYODO NEWS.

(An ambulance on Feb. 14, 2020, leaves Daikoku Pier in Yokohama where the cruise ship Diamond Princess remains in quarantine after a number of the 3,700 people on board were diagnosed with a new coronavirus.)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government will evacuate American citizens, and their families aboard a virus-hit cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, as concerns have been growing inside the country about its people remaining there.

About 380 people aboard the Diamond Princess will be offered seats on two evacuation flights from Japan back to the United States and will arrive as early as Sunday, the newspaper said, citing an official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than a week has passed since the cruise ship, with around 3,400 passengers and crew aboard, was quarantined at Yokohama Port after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected with the pneumonia-causing coronavirus.

The number of confirmed cases of infection has since steadily increased to 218, while the U.S. media has reported the frustration expressed by American passengers stranded on board the vessel.

The Japanese health ministry had initially planned to keep all of the passengers and crew confined on the vessel until next Wednesday when the monitoring period ends.

It then decided on Thursday to allow only those aged 80 and older, who have pre-existing conditions or are staying inside cabins without windows, as well as those traveling with them, to leave the ship after screening for infections.

CDC officials have been paying close attention to the situation, saying that they are working with Japanese authorities to protect the health of the American citizens.

Evacuees will likely arrive first at Travis Air Force Base in California, where they will undergo additional health screenings. Some may remain at Travis, where they will face a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days, while others may be moved to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for quarantine, according to The WSJ.

CR: KYODO NEWS