Americans on the Diamond Princess were told by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that a plane would be ready on Sunday to take them to the United States.
Updated 3: 55 am ET
YOKOHAMA, Japan – The United States will evacuate Americans from the cruise ship that has been (quarantined for more than a week in Japan because of coronavirus infections on board, the United States Embassy in Tokyo told Americans aboard the ship on Saturday. A chartered flight will arrive on Sunday for those who want to return to the United States, according to (a letter from the embassy) emailed to American passengers and crew members. Hundreds of Americans are on the ship. “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 letter read. [Read the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak here. ] Buses will move Americans and their belongings from the ship to the chartered plane, and the evacuees will be screened for symptoms before boarding, the letter read. The plane will land at Travis Air Force Base in California. Some passengers will then continue onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
Symptomatic Americans who cannot board the flight will remain in Japan for care, according to the letter. At least Americans have already been taken off the ship after being infected with the virus.
Updated Feb. 15,
(What is a Coronavirus?) It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
(How contagious is the virus?) (According to preliminary research,
it seems moderately infectious, (similar to SARS) , and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
(Where has the virus spread?) (The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and at least two dozen other countries .