Thousands of passengers, including some 400 Americans, were stranded on the coronavirus-hit Diamond cruise ship, quarantined near capital Tokyo. On Monday, the US evacuated its citizens from Japan, with Canada, Hong Kong and Israel planning to do the same.
US evacuates its citizens from Japan
The Diamond was docked in Yokohama since Feb. 3. All those who were not infected by the deadly virus were flown out of Japan at about 4:30 a.m. [Local Time].
At least 40 Americans who tested positive for coronavirus were not evacuated and were lodged in hospitals in Japan. Some of the Americans have declined to be evacuated, preferring to wait until the ship quarantine comes to an end on 19 February.
Fourteen evacuees tested positive while being evacuated from Japan. Those infected have been isolated to a specialized containment area on the aircraft, AFP reported.
14 day-quarantine in US
Upon reaching the US, the evacuees will be lodged for 14 days at quarantine centers at Travis Air Force Base in California, or Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.
Challenges faced by evacuees
There were passengers on the cruise ship whose partners have tested positive for the virus. "I would not get on a flight without Rebecca," said American passenger Kent Frasure, whose wife Rebecca tested positive and was sent to a hospital in Tokyo. "We are spinning out of control again," he added.
Two weeks of quarantine is another issue, which is frustrating and financially draining for the passengers. "It is financially devastating as well as emotionally devastating. I was in tears when I got the news," said Karey Mansicalco, who owns a real estate firm in Utah. "They are holding us hostage for absolutely no reason," she added.
Diamond Princess cruise ship
The cruise ship, with some 4,000 passengers onboard, has been stranded at Yokohama port, since Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have the virus. On Sunday, Japan announced 70 new coronavirus cases on the ship, bringing the total number of those infected to 356.