Fourteen of the more than 300 people evacuated to the U.S. on Sunday from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus, U.S. health officials said Monday.
The individuals, who were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, were asymptomatic and deemed able to fly back to the U.S. after testing negative for the virus two to three days earlier. It was during the evacuation process that they tested positive for the virus, also known as COVID-19, the U.S. departments of State and Health and Human Services said.
“These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols,” the departments said in a joint release.
The evacuees consisted of U.S. citizens and their immediate family members.
These 14 additional cases raise the total in the U.S. from 15 to 29. The last previous case confirmed was in a man who tested positive while under quarantine in Texas following his evacuation from China, authorities said Thursday.
More than 350 passengers on the Diamond Princess ship had tested positive for the virus in the days prior to Sunday’s evacuation, according to Japanese health officials. Of those individuals, at least 44 of them are American, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.
Those who tested positive for the virus while docked in Japan were taken to hospitals for treatment. Everyone else was evacuated to either Travis Air Force Base in California or Joint Base San Antonio in Texas. Once there, they will undergo a 14-day quarantine before being released, authorities said.
Fauci warned on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the outbreak is “on the verge” of becoming a global pandemic “unless containment is more successful than it is right now.”
His warning comes after an 83-year-old American woman tested positive for the virus after disembarking from a cruise ship in Cambodia and then flying to Malaysia.
In the days prior, that cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, had been turned away from docking in several other countries out of concern that one of the more than 2,000 passengers and crew members on board could have the virus.
On Monday, nearly 1,000 people who remained on board the ship were being tested for the virus. Hundreds of other former passengers in Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh were also being tested and told to say inside their hotel rooms, though one of these former passengers has said that they are not being barred from going outside or leaving the country, The New York Times reported.
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