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Diamond Princess cruise ship lets some passengers off



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The first group of passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship disembarked in Yokahama, Japan, to complete their 14-day quarantine period for coronavirus off the ship, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Friday.

Princess Cruises asked 22 passengers if they wanted to disembark, and 11 accepted, including two Americans, the embassy said. The embassy said another 200 passengers would be asked as soon as Friday night.

Officials are placing priority on elderly passengers with pre-existing conditions or in rooms with no balcony. All eligible passengers would have to test negative for coronavirus, the embassy said.

As of Thursday, at least 218 people aboard the ship had tested positive for coronavirus, including at least 20 Americans. The Diamond Princess is thought to be the largest group of coronavirus patients outside China, where the outbreak has infected almost 64,000 people and killed almost 1,400.

A bus driven by a chauffeur in protective gear departs the dock occupied by the quarantined Diamond Princess. Eleven passengers who are elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions were removed from the ship Friday and will finish out their quarantine on shore in Japan.

The Embassy noted that the process was expected to be time consuming and that Princess Cruises would be in contact with disembarking passengers to coordinate their return travel once they complete their quarantine period in a Japanese government facility.

Other Diamond Princess guests will remain on board through the end of the Feb. 19 quarantine period. The Princess Cruises ship was carrying 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew when it set sail and was quarantined after an initial 10 cases of coronavirus were reported Feb. 4



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