Aircraft Returning U.S. Passengers from Diamond Princess Includes 14 Confirmed to Have Coronavirus

Posted on February 17, 2020

The U.S. is returning its citizens from the virus-laden Diamond Princess cruise ship on two chartered aircraft. The cruise ship has been quarantined near Tokyo. Over 450 of the 3700 plus people aboard the ship have tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19). Some of them are reported to be seriously ill.

Over 40 U.S. ship passengers already confirmed to have the coronavirus (Covid-19) were not allowed to board the aircraft. They will be cared for in Japan. Another 14 U.S. citizens were confirmed to have the virus by Japanese officials at the last minute as the planes were getting ready to leave. These passengers were allowed to remain on the planes. They are being isolated from the other passengers according to a U.S. statement.

The U.S. says, "After consultation with HHS officials, including experts from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the State Department made the decision to allow the 14 individuals, who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process. During the flights, these individuals will continue to be isolated from the other passengers."

Over 300 U.S. citizens are returning on the aircraft. They will deplane at either Travis AFB or Joint Base San Antonio. The U.S. says it will keep them in quarantine for 14 days.

The number of infected from the cruise ship has been climbing daily. The returning passengers will likely undergo additional testing for the virus while in quarantine. Even though they face additional quarantine time the passengers are probably happy to be off the ship and back home.

The U.S. has not specified which of the two locations will be receiving the patients confirmed to have the virus.


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Image: IVDC, China CDC via GISAID