Americans from coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan flown back to U.S.

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
Emergency workers in protective clothing prepare to remove coronavirus patients from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked at Daikoku Pier where it remains in quarantine off the port of Yokohama, Japan, after a number of the 3,700 people on board were confirmed to have coronavirus, February 6, 2020. CARL COURT/GETTY

The first of two planes carrying hundreds of Americans taken off a quarantined cruise ship in Japan arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California late Sunday night. The other plane carrying evacuees from the Diamond Princess ship, which remains quarantined after an outbreak on board of the deadly new coronavirus, landed several hours later, early Monday morning at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Japan’s Defense Minister tweeted early Monday that Japanese troops had helped move about 340 U.S. nationals from the ship at Yokahama port to Tokyo’s Haneda airport to board the flights.

The U.S. government confirmed at least 14 Americans on the U.S.-government chartered planes had tested positive for the new COVID-19 disease just before departing Japan. There were kept in isolation during the long flight home and were to be taken for treatment upon arrival. All the other passengers — who have already spent almost two weeks quarantined on the ship — were facing another two-week quarantine at the Travis and Lackland military bases.

Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and Italy were planning similar flights to bring home passengers from the stricken cruise. Japanese officials said another 70 infections were confirmed on the Diamond Princess, which is owned by Florida-based Carnival Corp. Hundreds of others on board have been diagnosed with the virus.

The World Health Organization put the global death toll from the virus as of Sunday at 1,669, all but three in China, and said there were 51,857 lab-confirmed cases, all but about 700 in China. Chinese authorities have reported 70,548 cases and about 100 more deaths, but those figures include cases diagnosed using less-certain clinical tests that the WHO doesn’t count.

Rush to trace passengers from cruise ship who disembarked in Cambodia
A scramble intensified Monday to trace passengers from a U.S. cruise liner allowed to disembark in Cambodia despite at least one traveler later being diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus.

There were fears scores of cruise passengers have been scattered across the world without full health checks — as Cambodia on Monday afternoon treated a few dozen of the passengers to bus tours around the capital Phnom Penh.

Passenger Christina Kerby, whose tweets as the Westerdam was bounced across ports drew widespread attention, admitted she “was surprised” to be allowed on a tour of the Cambodian capital before being given the complete all-clear from the virus.

“I have young kids back home (in the U.S.) and wouldn’t want to risk infecting them or anyone around me if I am carrying the virus,” she told AFP.

The Westerdam was at sea for two weeks during which it was barred from Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand over fears it could be carrying the virus, which originated in China and has killed nearly 1,800 people.

On Thursday Cambodia, a staunch ally of Beijing, allowed the ship to dock at Sihanoukville. Three days later one Westerdam passenger, an 83-year-old American, was stopped on arrival in Malaysia and later diagnosed with the coronavirus.

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