Fourteen passengers, who were believed to be well before they were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan on Monday, were found to be infected before boarding a charter plane to the United States.
American officials learned evacuees were infected shortly before boarding a chartered flight.
Fourteen Americans who were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan were placed in segregated areas of a chartered flight on Monday after they were found to have the new coronavirus shortly before boarding the plane to the United States, American officials said.
The passengers were among more than 300 Americans aboard a cruise ship that has been quarantined in Yokohama for more than 10 days. United States officials initially said they would not allow infected people to board the evacuation flights, but appeared to reverse that decision early Monday.
“During the evacuation process, after passengers had disembarked the ship and initiated transport to the airport, U.S. officials received notice that 14 passengers, who had been tested 2-3 days earlier, had tested positive for COVID-19,” the State Department and Department of Health and Human Services said in a joint statement, referring to the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The 14 infected passengers were moved into a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft, where they were to be isolated and monitored. They had been found to be asymptomatic and “fit to fly” before the evacuation, according to the statement.
At least one flight landed on Monday morning at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. All passengers on that flight will be placed in a 14-day quarantine. Those that develop symptoms or test positive will be sent to “an appropriate location for continued isolation and care,” the statement added.
The United States has 15 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. That number will nearly double when the 14 infected passengers arrive.
Cambodia halts cruise ship exodus after a disembarked passenger tests positive.
Nearly 1,000 passengers and crew members aboard the Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, were being tested for the coronavirus on Monday after a passenger who had already disembarked tested positive for the virus, officials said.
The cruise ship operator, Holland America Line, had planned to send all passengers home after a difficult voyage during which the ship was turned away by ports in five countries for fear that someone aboard might have the coronavirus.
With the discovery of the infected passenger — an ailing American woman who was screened at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — the exodus of passengers has come to a halt.
Mang Sineth, the deputy governor of Preah Sihanouk Province, said the authorities and medical teams have been collecting samples from everyone left aboard the Westerdam to test for the virus. He said he could not estimate how long the testing would take or when the results would be available.
Holland America insisted during the cruise that all 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members were free of the disease. But when 145 passengers from the ship arrived at the airport in Kuala Lumpur and were screened and tested, one passenger was confirmed to have the virus. The passenger, 83, is now hospitalized along with her husband, 85, who is showing symptoms of the disease but has twice tested negative.
Hundreds of other passengers have made it to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital but are now sequestered in hotels, where they are being tested.
Christina Kerby, a former passenger who is now with hundreds of others at a Phnom Penh hotel, said they have been told to stay in their rooms as much as possible, but they have not been barred from going outside or leaving the country.
Reporting by The NYTimes