Enlarge /. YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – FEBRUARY 10: A member of the media wears a face mask while walking past the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Approximately 400 Americans could finally go home after being caught aboard a cruise ship in Japan with the largest outbreak of corona viruses outside of China.
The U.S. disease control and prevention centers announced Saturday plans to evacuate U.S. citizens, asking them to take the quarantined ship – the Diamond Princess – off board and on planes chartered by the U.S. State Department to fly to the USA. The plane will arrive in Japan on the evening of February 16. Upon their return, the Americans are subjected to a 14-day federal quarantine in one of two military bases.
All aboard the Diamond Princess have been quarantined since February 3 on the ship in Yokohama, Japan (south of Tokyo). At the beginning of the quarantine, 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members were on board. Since then, 285 cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) have been identified, according to the latest information from the World Health Organization.
The outbreak of COVID-19 on board the Diamond Princess is currently the largest of all clusters outside of China. With 72 cases, Singapore is the country with the next largest cluster.
According to the CDC, the itinerary for the extracted Americans will be as follows: buses will take travelers from the ship to chartered planes. Before boarding the plane, travelers are examined for symptoms of COVID-19 to prevent symptomatic travelers from leaving Japan. You will continue to be monitored for symptoms during flight and again upon arrival in the United States. You will first arrive at Travis Air Force Base, California, which is already used as a quarantine for repatriated travelers. Some travelers are then taken to another federal quarantine facility, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The repatriated cruise ships will be housed at both bases separately from others that are already in quarantine.
The mission to return citizens caught at sea is to "fulfill our responsibility to US citizens and relieve the Japanese healthcare system," a CDC statement said.
The infernal experience of the cruise passengers began after a previous Hong Kong passenger tested positive for the newly identified corona virus on February 1. The man had sailed a first section of the ship's 14-day tour from Yokohama, which started January 20. He got out in Hong Kong on January 25, where he later went to a hospital and tested positive. The cruise ship returned to Yokohama early, and health officials in Japan began examining subsets of passengers, beginning with those with symptoms and those in contact with the first identified sick passenger. The number of cases has increased steadily with the tests. Health officials reported earlier this week that a quarantine officer working on the ship had also contracted COVID-19.
During the quarantine, which was scheduled to last until February 19, passengers were largely confined to their cabins. Some have reported problems with the delivery of food and supplies such as diapers.
"We are aware that this has been a stressful experience, and we continue to strive to provide as much support as possible and to see you safely and quickly with family and friends in the United States," wrote the US Embassy in Japan on Saturday in a letter to American passengers.
The embassy stated that passengers who choose not to return this charter flight cannot return to the United States for a certain period of time. The disease control and prevention centers will make a final decision on this matter. "