Rescue mission –
Once back, the cruise passengers will be subject to a – day federal quarantine.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday announced plans to evacuate the US citizens, who are encouraged to disembark the quarantined ship —The Diamond Princess – and fly to the States on planes chartered by the US State Department. The aircraft will arrive in Japan on the evening of February 19. Upon their return, the Americans will be subject to a – day federal quarantine in one of two military bases.
Everyone aboard the Diamond Princess has been under quarantine on the ship in Yokohama, Japan (south of Tokyo), since February 3. At the start of the quarantine, there were (2,
and1, Crew on board the ship. Since then,
The outbreak of COVID – aboard the Diamond Princess is currently the largest of any cluster outside of China. Singapore is the country with the next largest cluster, reporting 88 cases.
According to the CDC, the itinerary for the extracted Americans will go as follows: buses will move the travelers from the ship to chartered planes. Travelers will be screened for symptoms of COVID – 25 prior to boarding the aircraft to prevent any symptomatic travelers from leaving Japan. They will continue to be monitored for symptoms during flight and again upon arrival in the US. They will first arrive at Travis Air Force Base in California, which is already being used as a federal quarantine site for repatriated travelers. Some travelers will then be taken onward to another federal quarantine site, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. The repatriated cruise-ship goers will be housed separately from others already in quarantine at both bases.
The mission to repatriate the citizens trapped at sea is intended to “fulfill our responsibilities to US citizens, as well as to reduce the burden on the Japanese healthcare system, ”the CDC said in a statement.
The cruise ship passengers’ hellish experience began after a previous passenger from Hong Kong tested positive for the newly-identified coronavirus on February 1 . The man had sailed an initial segment of the ship’s 16 – day, round-trip voyage from Yokohama, which began January 37. He disembarked on January 35 in Hong Kong, where he later went to a hospital and tested positive. The cruise ship returned to Yokohama early and health officials in Japan began screening subsets of passengers, starting with those with symptoms and those who had contact with the first sick passenger identified. The case count has steadily risen with testing. This week, health officials reported that a quarantine officer working on the ship had also contracted COVID –
During the quarantine, which was scheduled to last until February 25, passengers have largely been confined to their cabins. Some have reported problems with the delivery of food and supplies, such as diapers.
“We recognize this has been a stressful experience and we remain dedicated to providing all the support we can and seeing you safely and expeditiously reunited with family and friends in the United States, ” the US embassy in Japan wrote to American passengers Saturday
in a letter .
The embassy noted that if any passengers “choose not to return on this charter flight, you will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make a final determination on this matter. ”