Passengers began disembarking on Wednesday from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship after spending two weeks in quarantine off Yokohama, near Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK said.
Around 500 people were expected to disembark on Wednesday with the entire process to be completed by Friday, NHK reported.
The Diamond Princess, operated by Carnival Corp, has been quarantined in Yokohama since Feb 3 after a man, who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan, was diagnosed with the virus.
More than 540 people have been infected with the virus on the liner, which originally carried some 3,700 passengers and crew. Many of those infected have been transfered to hospitals. About half the passengers are Japanese.
Chinese passengers disembarking from the cruise ship will take chartered flight to leave for Hong Kong from Haneda Airport in Tokyo at 1:45 am Thursday, media reports said.
The United States evacuated more than 300 nationals on Monday on two chartered flights and six South Koreans and one Japanese spouse flew to South Korea on Wednesday morning on a chartered flight.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday there were 220 Australians on board. A total of 169 Australians will be evacuated, 36 have been diagnosed with coronavirus and will remain on the ship, and another 15 have elected to stay onboard. Those evacuated will be flown to Darwin, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
An Australian passenger said Australian nationals had been told they would be pre-screened starting on Wednesday morning and taken to Tokyo’s Haneda airport in the evening for an expected departure early Thursday.
According to information received, a Canadian charter flight would arrive on Friday morning, according to a tweet by a passenger with the handle @daxa_tw.
Besides those on the cruise liner and returnees brought home from China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the epidemic, about 60 cases of domestic infections have been confirmed in Japan, including 22 in Tokyo, according to NHK public broadcaster.
Source: China Daily