The US government plans to evacuate its citizens who are in quarantine this Sunday because of the COVID-19 outbreak on the cruise ship moored in Yokohama (south of Tokyo) since last week, according to Japanese sources confirmed today.
More than 350 passengers of American nationality who are on board the Diamond Princess will be able to leave the quarantine – as long as they have not tested positive for the virus – and return to their country on two charter flights this Sunday, said sources told the Japanese state chain NHK.
The Diamond Princess was declared in quarantine on February 3 with about 3,700 people on board between passengers and crew after knowing that a Honkgonian citizen who had traveled on board was infected with COVID-19.
Since then the Japanese authorities have detected another 218 infections of the new coronavirus on board the cruise ship, whose quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus is initially planned until next Wednesday.
However, the authorities allowed the departure of older passengers with health complications that were on the cruise and that gave a negative test result to see if they are infected with COVID-19.
All of them were transferred to an educational center in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, where they will have to observe the quarantine posted, according to the Japanese government.
Likewise, all those infected with the new coronavirus detected on the ship were transferred to medical centers as the results of the tests were known, while the rest of the passengers had to remain on board until the end of the quarantine.
In the case of American passengers and their families, the Japanese Executive has agreed to allow their evacuation at Washington’s request, the Japanese government sources told NHK, adding that the details for repatriation are still being finalized.
The evacuation of the Americans, which had been advanced by means of that country, has been confirmed as criticisms against the management of the Diamond Princess case by the Japanese authorities increased.
Health experts have disagreed with Japan’s decision to keep all passengers isolated on board, where they are more likely to spread the virus to each other, rather than distributing them to health centers during quarantine.
Some passengers, for their part, have expressed their complaints about the lack of medications or the deterioration of sanitary conditions and cleaning on board, among other circumstances, through messages placed outside their cabins or from the nets social.
Meanwhile, new cases of contagion of COVID-19 continue to be detected in Japanese territory, the latter without direct connection with the Chinese province where the outbreak occurred, Hubei.
The last three infections confirmed by the Japanese Ministry of Health place 44 people infected – not counting those of the Diamond Princess – and affect medical staff or their relatives from a hospital in Wakayama (western Japan), where two other cases were registered of the new coronavirus.
Among the cases of the new coronavirus in Japan, at the moment only one woman in her eighties has died in the prefecture of Kanagawa (southern Tokyo).