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American passengers on board cruise ship quarantined for coronavirus heading back to U.S.

Posted at 11:09 AM, Feb 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 14:09:11-05

American passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined for coronavirus since early February in Yokohama, Japan, are heading back to the United States on Sunday.

According to Japanese media reports, about 380 passengers from the U.S. were evacuated Sunday on buses provided by Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

Officials say the passengers were driven to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, where the U.S. government provided a chartered aircraft to bring them to either the Travis Air Force Base in California or the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

In a letter sent to U.S. citizens aboard the Diamond Princess ship, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said the passengers who return to the U.S. will still have to be quarantined for 14 days to "limit the potential spread of the disease."

If a passenger chooses to not return to the U.S., the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said they will no longer be able to return to the U.S. for "a period of time."

Health officials say there are now 355 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the cruise ship.