Coronavirus: First passengers disembark from Diamond Princess in Japan

Japan Coronavirus

The much-criticized quarantine of a cruise ship in Japan to avoid spreading the virus ended, with hundreds of passengers beginning to leave the ship.

Yesterday was supposed to be the last day for the enforced quarantine off Japan, after a passenger on board the ship was diagnosed with the virus two weeks ago.

They were joined there by the other seven passengers who tested positive and had initially arrived at Lackland Air Force base in Texas, Walters said. "I don't know what it was, but a lot of people got infected on that ship".

"I'm a bit concerned if I'm OK to get off the ship, but it was getting very hard physically", a 77-year-old man from Saitama, near Tokyo, who got off with his wife, told Kyodo News.

"As long as we get out of here, it's fine".

The cruise ship was put in quarantine in Japan's port of Yokohama in early February after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.

The cruise ship was put on quarantine over two weeks ago when a Chinese man from the city of Wuhan was diagnosed with the virus - since then the number of cases has jumped dramatically with the ship proving to be the ideal breeding ground for COVID-19. Every hour, another four or five people were being infected.

The Tuesday announcement came one day after the ministry announced 99 new cases of coronavirus on the ship.

Fourteen of the evacuees had tested positive for coronavirus before they boarded the evacuation flights, the U.S. departments of State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement early Monday, as the two flights carrying the evacuees were en route to USA military bases in California and Texas.

"The Japanese Ambassador [to Indonesia] has told me that three of the 78 Indonesian crew members on the cruise ship had been confirmed [to be infected with the coronavirus]", Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday.

'We are communicating with the appropriate public health officials, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local Japanese authorities.

Japan Coronavirus
A bus carrying passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship

Sara Arana, a social worker from Paso Robles, was among the 300 United States citizens allowed off the ship, docked off the Japanese port city of Yokohama, on Sunday and flown back to America on two chartered Boeing 747s, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported.

The rapid spread of the virus suggests more passengers could have been infected by the time the quarantine lifts on Wednesday.

Other foreign passengers were to be picked up by chartered flights sent from Canada, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended Japan's handling of the quarantine.

Some Americans made a decision to take their chances and stay on the ship.

The U.S. government said Americans who chose to remain on board the ship in Japan instead of returning on a chartered flight can not return home for at least two weeks after they come ashore.

They were "isolated from the other passengers" during the flights, officials said.

The Diamond Princess arrived in Yokohama early this month with 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

Some 500 mainly elderly holidaymakers who have tested negative will be allowed to step back onto land throughout the course of Wednesday but the entire disembarkation process for all eligible passengers is likely to extend until Friday.

At least two government officials themselves contracted the virus while working on the ship.

He followed up by saying it will probably be just 4 or 5 days.


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