Hundreds of American passengers who had been quarantined on the coronavirus-infected Diamond Princess cruise ship left Japan Monday on two State Department-chartered planes en route to the United States — but some 46 infected Americans remained behind.
The first flight is scheduled to arrive at Travis Air Force Base in California around 2 a.m. ET on Monday, with the second landing at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The 46 Americans who tested positive on the cruise ship were told to remain in Japan to be treated for the virus that has killed an estimated 1,765 people and infected over 70,000 globally, according to Princess Cruise media relations. Buses had transported U.S passengers from the ship to Haneda Airport in Tokyo.
Health officials said they screened all passengers prior to boarding the flights and no symptomatic or infected travelers were allowed onboard.
So far, 355 people have tested positive for the virus on the Diamond Princess after doctors found 67 new cases Saturday.
About 380 Americans and family members were on the ship when it was quarantined on Feb. 5. It’s unclear exactly how many U.S. citizens have tested positive for the virus other than the 46 reportedly infected.
“All travelers on these flights were screened for symptoms prior to departure and will be subject to [the] Centers for Disease Control (CDC) screening, health observation, and monitoring requirements. Only those who were asymptomatic were allowed to board the flights,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Passengers were quarantined for 14 days on the ship, which is considered the virus’s incubation period. They are expected to be quarantined for 14 additional days upon arrival at either base.
The bases in California and Texas were selected to ensure facilities were available immediately to treat their medical needs, according to the U.S. Embassy in Toyko.
The chartered flights were the only opportunities for passengers to fly to the U.S until March 4, embassy officials said. The remaining passengers are expected to depart the ship this coming Wednesday.
Fox News’ Vicki Choi and Rich Edson contributed to this report.
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