14 Cruise Passengers Positive For Coronavirus Fly Back To U.S.

SACRAMENTO, CA — Fourteen passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. State Department and Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning. Those fourteen individuals have been allowed to fly back home to America, but will remain in quarantine for fourteen days at either Travis Air Force Base outside Sacramento, California or Joint Base San Antonio in Texas.

The flights departed Japan at approximately 4:30 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night and landed in the U.S. just before 6 a.m. Monday morning.

Those fourteen who tested positive for coronavirus will remain under quarantine at the two bases for 14 days, said the State Department.

Those two locations are the official government quarantine sites for people who returned from the Wuhan area of China, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These fourteen new people will be kept in separate quarantine areas.

For the past two weeks, the cruise ship Diamond Princess had been docked at a port city in Japan; since Feb. 3, about 400 U.S. citizens were detained on board as the ship was quarantined due to virus fears, CNN reported.

On Sunday night the passengers were allowed to disembark the ship and were taken to nearby airports. It was after they had already left the ship that test results came positive: Fourteen people had the virus. However, the State Department made the decision to allow the fourteen to continue on their journey home to America, despite the positive test results.

“During the evacuation process, after passengers had disembarked the ship and initiated transport to the airport, U.S. officials received notice that 14 passengers, who had been tested 2-3 days earlier, had tested positive for COVID-19,” said the State Department in a statement Monday morning.

“These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocol,” the U.S. government continued.

All 400 passengers aboard were asymptomatic and deemed fit to fly by Sunday night, said the State Department. Test results came back after they had already gotten off the boat.

Those fourteen who tested positive are also currently asymptomatic as of Monday morning, said the State Department.

“The State Department made the decision to allow the 14 individuals, who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process,” said the State Department. “During the flights, these individuals will continue to be isolated from the other passengers.”

Passengers that develop symptoms in flight and those with positive test results will remain isolated on the flights and will be transported to an appropriate location for continued isolation and care, said the State Department.

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

“We continue to believe the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus 2019 to the general public is currently low,” said the CDC.

Reporters at the scene captured video of the passengers disembarking the flight at BSA Lackland-Kelly Field in San Antonio; see below.

“Every precaution to ensure proper isolation and community protection measures are being taken, driven by the most up-to-date risk assessments by U.S. health authorities,” said the U.S. State Department. “We continue all possible efforts to protect the welfare of U.S. citizens.”

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