The U.S. government is preparing to evacuate American citizens aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the site of most of the coronavirus infections found outside of China and currently quarantined off Japan, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Around 380 people are offered seats on two planes to the United States and could return home on Sunday, the newspaper said. People with a fever, cough or other symptoms are not allowed on the flights.
Evacuees will conduct additional health checkups in the U.S., and some are likely to be subject to mandatory quarantine, which is expected to last 14 days, according to Henry Walke, an officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC was not immediately available for comment. The US government and the Japanese government said they were in close contact with each other, but declined to confirm the report.
"We have had various talks with the US government to respond to the situation," Masato Otaka, spokesman for the Japanese State Department, said via email.
A U.S. passenger, Sawyer Smith, 25, told Reuters that passengers had been informed that the captain would make an announcement later.
The prospect of possibly more quarantined time seemed to discourage others.
"We would like to end the quarantine on the ship as planned, decompress it for a few days in a non-quarantine environment in Japan, and then fly back to the United States according to our own arrangements. What's wrong with that?" Said passenger Matthew Smith.
The cruise ship quarantine ends on February 19.
The cruise ship Diamond Princess, owned by Carnival Corp. heard, has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama on February 3 after being diagnosed with the virus in a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before traveling to Japan.
At that time, there were around 3,500 passengers and crew on board, of which 218 were tested positive for coronavirus infection and are now in Japanese hospitals.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)