Two charter flights carrying cruise ship passengers from Japan have landed at military bases in California and Texas, with passengers facing a quarantine period to ensure they do not have the Covid-19 virus that has been spreading thoughout Asia.
A plane carrying American passengers touched down at Travis air force base in northern California shortly before 11.30pm local time (0730 GMT) on Sunday. A second flight arrived at Lackland air force base in Texas about two and a half hours later.
Japan’s defence minister, Tarō Konō, had tweeted earlier that Japanese troops helped transport 340 US passengers on 14 buses from Yokohama port to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. About 380 Americans were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The US said it arranged the evacuation because people on the ship were at a high risk of exposure to the virus. For the departing Americans, the evacuation cuts short a 14-day quarantine that began onboard the ship on 5 February.
The state department announced later that 14 of the evacuees confirmed they had the virus but were allowed to board the flight because they did not have symptoms. They were being isolated from other passengers on the flight, the state department and the Department of Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday that an infected person who showed minimal symptoms could still pass the virus to someone else.
After arriving in the US, all of the passengers must go through a further 14 days of quarantine at the military facilities – meaning they will have been under quarantine for nearly four weeks.
Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar passenger evacuations. Other governments, including Canada and Hong Kong, will also require the passengers to undergo a second 14-day quarantine.
Credit: The Guardian