(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will evacuate its citizens on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan, according to a statement on the American embassy in Japan’s website.
The U.S. Department of State will provide chartered aircraft to bring American passengers and crew back to the U.S. The ship is the largest infection cluster outside China. The embassy informed the Americans on board about this decision in an email.
The aircraft will arrive on the evening of Feb. 16 and will transport the passengers first to Travis Air Force Base in California, and some may be moved to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. They will undergo a two-week quarantine.
Dow Jones reported the news earlier, citing an official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are about 380 Americans on board the cruise ship, according to the report.
“We recognize this has been a stressful experience and we remain dedicated to providing all the support we can,” the embassy said in the notice on its website.
As of Thursday, there were 218 infections aboard Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess. The surging numbers are fueling concerns that rather than keeping passengers safe, the quarantine is allowing the virus to spread through the ship.
Some 3,500 people on the Diamond Princess are being kept in quarantine, about 200 of them aged over 80. The virus has killed more than 1,500 people since emerging in China’s Hubei province in December.
Japan has been preparing to allow certain passengers to start disembarking the ship, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters Friday. About 40 people in Japan now have the virus, with local authorities in the western prefecture of Wakayama announcing three more on Saturday.
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