Passengers begin leaving Coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess Cruise liner in Japan as quarantine ends

More than half of all the recorded cases outside China, the center of the epidemic, have been aboard the ship.

Hundreds of passengers began disembarking from the quarantined cruise ship in Japan.

Passengers began disembarking this morning from a cruise ship docked off Yokohama, Japan, as a two-week quarantine of the vessel was coming to an end even as a major coronavirus outbreak onboard continued unabated.

An initial group of about 500 people were to leave the boat on the first day of what the Japanese authorities have said will be a three-day operation to offload those who have tested negative for the virus and do not have symptoms. Passengers who shared cabins with infected patients have been ordered to remain on the ship.

Several countries have arranged charter flights to take their nationals home after they leave the boat. Most if not all of these passengers face an additional two-week quarantine in their home countries.

The disembarkation is taking place even as at least 542 passengers aboard the ship, the Diamond Princess, have been infected with the virus. Yesterday, the authorities announced an additional 88 cases on the ship, which originally carried about 3,700 passengers and crew members.

Many of the infected had already been removed from the ship and taken to nearby hospitals. More than 300 Americans, at least 14 of whom were infected, had also been taken off the boat earlier this week and placed in a 14-day quarantine at military bases in the United States.

More than 100 Americans who were not evacuated on chartered flights cannot return home for at least two more weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

The agency said in a statement that virus containment measures on the ship “may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission.”

“C.D.C. believes the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk,” it added.

Passengers will not be allowed to return to the United States until they have been off the ship for 14 days, without any symptoms or a positive test for the virus, the agency said. The decision applies to those who have tested positive and are hospitalized in Japan, and to those who are still aboard the ship.

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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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