Hundreds of Americans flown home from coronavirus-hit cruise ship

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 17, 2020 - Duration: 02:49s

Hundreds of Americans flown home from coronavirus-hit cruise ship

More than 300 American cruise liner passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, were flown home to military bases in the United States, after two weeks under quarantine off Japan.

Lisa Bernhard has more.

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Hundreds of Americans flown home from coronavirus-hit cruise ship

More than 300 Americans are back in the U.S. Monday, including 14 infected with the coronavirus, after being quarantined on a cruise ship that had the largest cluster of cases outside of China.

These images show passengers on board the Diamond Princess being cleared to disembark the ship after being detained at a Japanese port for two weeks, wearing surgical masks as they loaded buses - with workers in head-to-toe protective gear - before boarding two chartered jets that flew them to the U.S. Fourteen people tested positive for the virus while on the way back.

They were isolated in specialized containment areas on the planes.

One jet landed Sunday night at Travis Air Force Base in California, the other at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas.

The passengers will remain under quarantine another 14 days.

China, where the virus originated, has confirmed 44,000 cases of coronavirus - also called COVID-19 - including over 1770 deaths, the director-general of the World Health Organization said Monday.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS SAYING: "The data also appeared to show a decline in new cases.

This trend must be interpreted very cautiously.

Trends can change as new populations are affected.

It's too early to tell if this reported decline will continue.

Every scenario is still on the table." China has responded to the virus by locking down Hubei’s provincial capital Wuhan - where the virus first appeared - a megacity of 11 million people.

It has also imposed restrictions in a number of other cities.

Outside of China, the WHO said it has received reports of 694 cases from 25 countries, with three deaths.

The organization's executive director warned one reporter that it is premature to label the coronavirus a "pandemic." (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAM MICHAEL RYAN SAYING: "I think we need to be extremely cautious in using the word 'pandemic.'

The real issue here is whether we're seeing efficient community transmission outside of China and at the present time we are not observing that.

The majority of cases outside China have a direct link still back to China.

So therefore I think that we have to be very, very careful not to drive fear in the world right now." Of the 3700 passengers on board the Diamond Princess, more than 400 tested positive for the virus.

That includes 40 Americans diagnosed days ago, who were prohibited from flying back to the U.S. They remain in Japan for treatment.

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