While the United States is beginning to evacuate American quarantined coronavirus passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a passenger who decided to stay on the ship explained what the evacuation looked like from the inside.
Matthew Smith, a passenger on board the ship, previously told USA TODAY that he and his wife Katherine were not planning to take the charter flight back to the US because they believed that “the way they deal with it is not certain “. On Sunday, he shared details of what the plan for the passengers was at the beginning of the evacuation.
“(I) watch the ‘rescue’ with fascination,” he wrote in a series of messages to the US TODAY. “It’s bizarre to have a front row seat for an incident that’s being followed worldwide.”
In a letter to American passengers and crew members sent out on Sunday morning, the US Embassy in Japan announced that flights from Yokohama to the United States later that day would be “the only way for eligible passengers until the 4th March 2020 to fly to the United States. ” , at the earliest. ”
Smith said the passengers had been asked to report to the U.S. Embassy to let them know if they wanted to leave the ship.
“The American medical staff who came to our cabin to ask us some questions seemed surprised that we stayed, but did not go beyond,” said Smith, adding that the staff confirmed that the couple were not was on his list before radio advised someone that they would stay on board.
A “tent corridor with tables” has been set up for passengers who have decided to disembark in order to process them through Japanese immigration. Guests are being called and are currently boarding shuttles on their cruise deck, Smith said, adding, “It looks like the buses will all leave together when they’re full.”
USA TODAY has asked Diamond Princess for more information about the evacuation.
Meanwhile: The 83-year-old American tested positive for coronavirus after she left Holland America’s ship
How the United States Want to Evacuate Americans
The U.S. Department of State is coordinating with the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies to provide a charter plane to bring passengers back to the U.S.
The Americans are transported to the plane and checked for coronavirus before boarding. The flight first lands at Travis Air Force Base, California, where some passengers stay while others fly to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
All travelers returning from a “high-risk area” must complete a full 14-day quarantine upon their return. Americans who choose not to return on the charter flight cannot return to the U.S. before the next month, the letter said.
Earlier this week the cruise company announced that some passengers, beginning with the medically vulnerable, would be released from the ship to complete the quarantine. The U.S. embassy in Tokyo said on Friday that the first group of passengers in Yokahama, Japan, had disembarked to end its 14-day quarantine period for off-ship coronaviruses.
So far, 12 people have voluntarily disembarked and 55 in the coronavirus negative group have remained on board, Princess Cruises said in a press release from spokesman Negin Kamali.
The Diamond Princess is considered the largest group of coronavirus patients outside of China Outbreak has infected more than 69,200 People and killed 1,670 from Sunday afternoon.
The Princess Cruises ship carried 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew when it set sail and was quarantined after 10 cases of coronavirus were reported on February 4.
Preliminary plans to end the quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship were announced on Saturday after the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Japan announced that the U.S. would evacuate American passengers aboard the ship.
Princess Cruises’ ship has been in quarantine since the Corona virus broke out. The required two-week quarantine is scheduled to end on February 19. The company announced on Sunday that it would cancel further cruises scheduled through April 20, “based on the extended quarantine time and the estimated time to prepare the ship for the return flight.”
Princess Cruises also announced that a further 67 cases of coronavirus were identified on the ship on Saturday, for a total of at least 285 cases of coronavirus. The cruise line also announced on its website and social media that it is canceling Asia trips on two of its ships, the Sapphire Princess and the Majestic Princess.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 400 American passengers on board the Diamond Princess.
Diamond Princess Update:
President Jan Swartz provided a video update to guests and the team on board Diamond Princess as the Japanese Ministry of Health began sharing their designs for the disembarkation. #DiamondPrincess pic.twitter.com/cASOUu4zgs
– Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) February 15, 2020
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Contributors: Curtis Tate, Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Coronavirus: Diamond Princess Passenger Talks Evacuation from the US Embassy