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Americans trapped on cruise ship with coronavirus get to go home

Enlarge / YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – FEBRUARY 10: A member of the media wears a face mask while walking past the Diamond Princess cruise ship.Getty | Carl Court

Approximately 400 Americans may finally get to go home after being trapped aboard a cruise ship in Japan with the largest outbreak of coronavirus outside of China.

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 16. Upon their return, the Americans will be subject to a 14-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 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board the ship. Since then, 285 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) have been identified, according to the latest figures reported by the World Health Organization.

The outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the Diamond Princess is currently the largest of any cluster outside of China. Singapore is the country with the next largest cluster, reporting 72 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-19 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.

Stressful stay

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 ships 14-day, round-trip voyage from Yokohama, which began January 20. He disembarked on January 25 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 bRead More – Source

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arstechnica

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