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Diamond Princess quarantine is ending, but some countries add further waiting period

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Update: Approximately 600 passengers disembarked from Diamond Princess Wednesday in Yokohama, the beginning of the end to a COVID-19 quarantine begun Feb. 3.

Princess Cruises said several hundred others were likely to be cleared Thursday.

According to media reports, some of the people had been tested several days ago, raising concerns by some public health experts about the process directed by the Japan Ministry of Health. 

Several countries are requiring people who leave the ship to undergo additional quarantine ashore.

US mandates 14-day waiting period

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that after Americans (passengers and crew) disembark Diamond Princess, they will be required to wait 14 days without having symptoms or a positive coronavirus test result before they are permitted to board flights to the US.

If an individual from this cruise arrives stateside before the 14-day period ends, they will still be subject to a mandatory quarantine until they have completed the 14-day period with no symptoms or positive test results, CDC said.

Separately, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong repatriations

Separately, the embassies of Canada, Australia and Hong Kong are coordinating the evacuation of their citizens — passengers and crew — via charter flights. Planes from Australia and Hong Kong were expected to arrive within 24 hours, while the Canada flight is anticipated early Friday morning.

Additional 14-day quarantine for evacuees

Based on information provided by the embassies directly to their citizens, those who take the flights will also require an additional 14-day quarantine upon arrival in their country of origin.

A negative COVID-19 test following that quarantine will then be needed before the evacuees are allowed to travel to their final destination.

Princess Cruises said the exact numbers of those traveling on these charter flights will be available after they have departed.

Jan Swartz on site

Princess President Jan Swartz was in the cruise terminal with other members of her team who are on site, supporting operations.

Monitoring of those hospitalized ashore

Working in coordination with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Princess said it also will be monitoring the progress of those who have contracted COVID-19 and will be offering travel assistance to them upon their recovery, as confirmed by a heath certificate from the Japanese authorities.

Quarantine began Feb. 3

Diamond Princess has been quarantined at the Port of Yokohama since arriving Feb. 3, carrying  2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew.  As people tested positive for coronavirus, they were taken to hospitals ashore. 

The United States evacuated two planeloads of its citizens and residents on Feb. 15. They are quarantined in California and Texas.

As previously reported, Princess is refunding the full cruise fare for all Diamond passengers, including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities and other items. The line is also covering shipboard charges during the additional time on board. And Princess will provide a future cruise credit equal to the fare paid for the voyage.