40 Americans infected on Japan ship as others fly home

40 Americans infected on Japan ship as others fly home

Monday, February 17, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!


YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) — Forty Americans are among hundreds with the new coronavirus on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan, a US official said yesterday, after other Americans on-board left for chartered flights home.

The evacuation coincided with stepped-up warnings from Japanese authorities over the deadly outbreak, urging citizens to avoid crowds and “non-essential gatherings”.

The Diamond Princess was placed in a 14-day quarantine in early February after a former passenger tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

But US authorities announced on the weekend they would offer American passengers the option to leave the ship and fly home, where they will face another 14-day isolation period. Several other governments also have announced plans to remove their citizens from the ship.

More than three dozen Americans are not going home, however, Anthony Fauci, a senior official at the National Institutes for Health, said on CBS.

“Forty of them have gotten infected,” Fauci said. “They're going to be in hospitals in Japan.”

It was not immediately clear whether the 40 Americans were among the figure of 355 people from the ship which Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato earlier yesterday said were infected.

He said that 1,219 people on the vessel had been tested.

Late yesterday and into the early hours today, Americans who opted to leave were brought off the ship in groups. They passed through a makeshift passport control but underwent no health checks, American passenger Sarah Arana told AFP.

They boarded buses driven by personnel in head-to-toe protective suits and were told that the more than a dozen vehicles would travel in a convoy.

“I am happy and ready to go,” Arana told AFP before leaving the ship. “We need a proper quarantine. This was not it.”

The US Government should have intervened “much sooner, at the beginning”, the 52-year-old medical social worker said.

“This was too much for Japan, and they shouldn't have had to bear the burden,” she added. “The people of Japan did not deserve this. I am full of gratitude.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Saturday that 400 Americans would be flown home.

Other Americans on-board declined the evacuation, despite being warned they will still have to wait two weeks and test negative for the virus before being allowed back in the United States.

“My health is fine, and my two-week quarantine is almost over. Why would I want to be put on a bus and a plane with other people they think may be infected when I have spent nearly two weeks isolated from those people?” tweeted Matt Smith, an American lawyer on the ship with his wife.

He described a fellow American passenger standing on her balcony chanting “USA, USA” as buses arrived to collect them.

“Of course, in contravention of the rules of quarantine, she's not wearing a face mask, and she's talking with a passenger on the adjacent balcony... And you wanted me to get on a bus with her?”

Japan has not been able to test all those on-board the ship due to limited supplies of testing kits, facilities and manpower, which are also needed by authorities tracking the spread of the virus on land.

Hong Kong also said it plans to charter a flight for 330 city residents on the ship. Canada announced a similar decision, and yesterday Italy said it wants to quickly get its roughly 35 citizens off the ship.

“We will be next,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said, adding a meeting is to be held today to decide how to bring them back.

The death toll jumped to 1,665 in mainland China after 142 more people died from the virus. More than 68,000 people have now been infected.

In Japan the number of new infections has continued to rise, with six new cases reported yesterday, most of them in Tokyo. At least 59 cases have now been confirmed, including more than a dozen among the hundreds of Japanese nationals and their relatives repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak.

With the rise in local infections, Kato warned the country was “entering a new phase”.

“We are seeing infection cases that we are unable to trace back their transmission routes,” he told reporters.

“We want to ask the public to avoid non-urgent, non-essential gatherings,” Kato added.

“I think it's important that we exercise Japan's collective strength.”


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT