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News / International

19 Feb. 2020 / 12:43

Diamond Princess cruise passengers disembark after 14-day quarantine ends in Japan

Passengers who have tested negative for the novel coronavirus began disembarking from the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday, despite mounting evidence from infectious disease experts they could unknowingly be carrying the virus back into their communities, CNN reports.

These are the first passengers to leave the vessel following a 14-day quarantine period, not including those undergoing treatment on shore for the virus, and the more than 300 Americans evacuated over the weekend and now in quarantine at two US bases.

A total of 545 confirmed cases of the virus have been linked to the ship during its quarantine in Tokyo Bay, with 88 new cases confirmed on Tuesday. One new case was confirmed on Wednesday -- a Disaster Medical Assistant Team male doctor in his 30s who went on board the ship.

Passengers over 70 years old who have tested negative were the first to exit the ship on board taxis and buses, with some expected to transition to shoreside facilities and others to board chartered flights, according to the ship's captain. The disembarkation will take several days. Once passengers have left the ship, they will be permitted to travel freely.

Several countries including Australia, Canada and the UK were organizing chartered planes to repatriate their nationals.

The coronavirus has spread from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in central China, to more than 25 countries, killing 2,005 people and infecting more than 75,000 people.

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