Over 300 US Passengers On Cruise Ship, Including 14 Infected, Flown Back

More than 300 U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who were passengers on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship off Japan are being flown back to the United States in two charter planes.

They were evacuated from the cruise ship the Diamond Princess at approximately 4:30 PM Eastern time on Sunday, and the flights will arrive in the United States later Monday morning, the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services said.

Fourteen of the passengers were found to be infected by the virus, the departments said in a joint press release.

These individuals were isolated in a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft.

All passengers are being closely monitored by medical professionals throughout the flight, and if any of them become symptomatic, they will be moved to the specialized containment area.

Upon landing in the United States, passengers will be taken to either Travis AFB or Joint Base San Antonio, and will remain under quarantine for 14 days.

Passengers that develop symptoms in flight and those tested positive for COVID-19 will remain isolated on the flights and will be transported to an “appropriate location for continued isolation and care”, the departments said.

The Diamond Princess has been in quarantine in the Japanese port city of Yokohama since February 3. 355 passengers in the ship have tested positive for the virus, representing the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside China.

Israel, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia are also evacuating their citizens on flights from China.

China reported 105 new deaths on Monday, bringing the total death toll to 1,770.

More than 70,500 confirmed cases of infection were reported, according to the National Health Commission.

Outside China, five deaths and more than 500 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported so far. Casualties were reported from France, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan.

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