More than 300 Americans rescued from a cruise ship quarantined off Japan because of the new coronavirus arrived back in the US Monday for two more weeks of medical seclusion, as concern rose over passengers who dispersed around the globe after leaving another ship in Cambodia.
More than a dozen Americans evacuated on US-chartered flights from a cruise ship docked in Japan were being tested for the novel coronavirus at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
The 13 patients, among 300 Americans quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess for nearly two weeks, had either tested positive for the virus or had a high likelihood of testing positive because of their symptoms said, Dr. Chris Kratochvil.
The COVID-19 virus death toll exceeds 1,700 in China, where it has infected more than 70,500.
Elsewhere, hundreds more have been infected and the virus has sparked panic buying, economic jitters as well as the cancellation of high-profile sporting and cultural events.
With fresh cases emerging daily in Japan, the government has advised citizens to avoid mass gatherings, and has canceled public events.
Including celebrations in central Tokyo for the Emperor´s birthday and the amateur portion of the city marathon, affecting around 38,000 runners.
In the Chinese capital Beijing, municipal authorities have ordered citizens arriving in the city to self-quarantine for 14 days, the presumed incubation period of the virus.
State media said China may postpone its annual parliamentary session, which has been held in March for the last 35 years.
Outside China, the biggest cluster of infections is from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan´s Yokohama, where an additional 99 cases were revealed on Monday.
That brought the total to 454 diagnosed despite passengers being confined to their cabins during a 14-day quarantine.
As criticism grew of Japan’s handling of the ship crisis, governments are scrambling to repatriate their citizens.
Canada, Italy, Hong Kong — and the latest country, Australia — were poised to follow the US in removing nationals from the vessel.
The first US flight touched down at Travis Air Force Base in California shortly before midnight Sunday, followed by the second early Monday at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.
Before they boarded the flights, US officials were informed that 14 of the passengers tested days earlier had received positive results. Authorities allowed them to fly but isolated them from other passengers in a “special containment area”.
US officials deemed 13 of the cases “high risk” for COVID-19 and sent them to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for treatment and re-testing.
All repatriated passengers must undergo a two-week quarantine period on US soil.