The United States evacuates Americans on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan since the outbreak of the coronavirus

On Saturday the American embassy in Tokyo sent an email to the Americans aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship detailed plans for a voluntary evacuation for U.S. citizens and their immediate family from the ship to take place on Sunday evening local time.
Over 3,600 people, including 428 Americans, have been stuck on the cruise ship moored in Yokohama ever since February 4 in what has become the largest outbreak of the virus outside mainland China. At least 24 Americans are among the 219 people infected with coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess cruise.

The US embassy email, obtained from CNN from a passenger on board the ship, states that the United States government “recommends, very carefully, that US citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring” .

Those who choose to return to the United States on board the charter aircraft will have to undergo another 14 days of quarantine. “We understand that this is frustrating and an adaptation, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have put in place to limit the potential spread of the disease,” read the email.

Charter planes will arrive in Japan on the evening of February 16, according to the email. Buses will transport Americans directly from Yokohama port to an unspecified airport.

Passengers who choose to return to the charter flight will be screened for the symptoms of the virus.

Americans who have already tested positive for coronavirus, as well as those who exhibit symptoms of the virus, will not be able to board the aircraft and will continue to receive treatment in Japan.

The plane will land in the United States at the Travis air base in California, with some passengers continuing to the Lackland air base in Texas.

About 380 Americans and their families on the ship will receive seats on two U.S. charter planes organized by the State Department, Henry Walke, director of the Preparedness and Emerging Infections Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he told the Journal Friday .

Those who choose not to take charter flights “will not be able to return to the United States for a period of time,” which the CDC will have the final say.

The Japanese government said on Saturday it “appreciated” the United States’ decision to offer voluntary evacuation to American citizens aboard the Diamond Princess.

“The government of Japan believes that the measures taken by the United States government will help mitigate the burden of the government of Japan on the medical response in the” Diamond Princess “and appreciates these measures,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.

Other Diamond Princess passengers will be disembarked for several days starting February 21 and the crew will likely begin their quarantine once all passengers have left the ship, Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, told passengers in a letter read by the Captain ship.

Passengers who met the criteria of the Japanese Ministry of Health for being at high risk of contracting the virus were allowed to disembark from the ship and spend the rest of the quarantine ashore in Japanese government housing.

Since it was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December, the coronavirus novel, officially known as Covid-19, has killed over 1,500 people and infected over 67,000 people worldwide, the vast majority in mainland China. .

CNN’s Mick Krever reported from Yokohama, Japan, Sandi Sidhu from Tokyo and Veronica Stracqualursi from Washington, DC. CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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