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US to evacuate citizens from coronavirus 'floating prison'

Passengers and children stand on the desk of the cruise ship Diamond Princess, as the vessel's passengers continue to be tested for coronavirus, at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 13, 2020.
Passengers and children stand on the desk of the cruise ship Diamond Princess, as the vessel's passengers continue to be tested for coronavirus, at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 13, 2020. © Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

The US Embassy in Japan announced that Americans aboard the Diamond Princess – a luxury cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan after a coronavirus outbreak on board – will be flown back home on a chartered flight on Sunday.

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About 380 Americans are aboard the ship, which has docked at Yokohama, a port city southwest of Tokyo.

So far, 218 people from the ship have tested positive for a new virus.

Japan's Health Ministry allowed 11 passengers to disembark Friday, saying that those above 80 years of age, with underlying medical conditions, as well as those staying in windowless cabins during the 14-day quarantine, can stay at a designated facility on shore.

The Diamond Princess' passengers have reported feelings of anxiety and ennui: "It’s not going to be a luxury cruise, it’s going to be like a floating prison," passenger David Abel said in a video posted on Facebook at the start of the quarantine nearly two weeks ago.

“How do we cope with it? We can either be creative and thinking positive things or we can be dragging ourselves down into the gutter."

Other passengers posted images of sparse meals, crew in face masks and once bustling common areas now eerily deserted.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

 

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