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40 Americans Rescued From Quarantined Ship Are Diagnosed With Coronavirus

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The U.S. State Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services, rescued more than 400 American citizens Sunday night who were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in a Japanese port.

At least 40 of the U.S. residents tested positive for the coronavirus, according to immunologist Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

It was not immediately clear whether the number was in addition to the 20 infected Americans previously reported or if it is a new total, USA Today reported.

The ship had been held in quarantine since Feb. 3 with more than 3,700 passengers and crew on board. Of those, Japanese officials now say 454 tested positive for what is now being called covid-19; 428 of the 3,700 were Americans.

They were airlifted on chartered flights out of Yokohama, Japan and flew to Travis Air Force Base in California, with another flight headed to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

But all evacuees had to go immediately into another quarantine after arriving back on U.S. soil.

“Travelers returning to the United States from high-risk areas are required to undergo quarantine. Accordingly, you will need to undergo further quarantine of 14 days when you arrive in the United States,” according to an email sent to the passengers on the Diamond Princess two days before the evacuation.

According to officials in China, where the virus began in the Wuhan Province, 66,493 people have been infected with covid-19 and 1,523 have died.

Separately, USA Today reported that the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo has notified Princess Cruises that Canada will provide chartered aircraft to bring back all Canadians quarantined on the ship as well.

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Cruises

Holland America Ship Given OK to Cross Panama Canal

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A Holland America Line cruise ship carrying four dead passengers and dozens of others who are sick – including two who tested positive for the coronavirus – has been given permission to pass through the Panama Canal and return to Fort Lauderdale.

The Zaandam had initially been denied entry into Chile on its South American itinerary and then denied the chance to pass through the Canal to get back to its home port in Florida, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

The media outlet said the boat is currently anchored outside Panama Canal waters, where healthy passengers are being transferred to Holland America’s Rotterdam.

The Panama Canal Authority said in a statement it “supports all efforts being made to ensure an expedited return home for cruise passengers and crew on Holland America’s Zaandam.”

Holland America Line released a statement saying “We are aware of reported permission for both Zaandam and Rotterdam to transit the Panama Canal in the near future. We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew. This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details.”

No timetable was given for when the ships would return to Fort Lauderdale, nor did Holland America offer any information regarding whether the number of sick passengers had grown past the previous update of 138. It normally takes 72 hours to travel from the west side of the canal to the east and then back to Fort Lauderdale.

One American citizen is believed to be among the four deceased passengers. The passengers were ordered to self-isolate in their staterooms since March 22.

Whether the Zaandam will be allowed to dock in Fort Lauderdale for the same humanitarian reasons that officials allowed the ship to pass through the Panama Canal remains to be seen. The Sun-Sentinel noted that several Broward County commissioners were alarmed at the idea of the Zaandam docking at Port Everglades.

Commissioner Michael Udine told the paper Sunday morning that Port Everglades notified county commissioners late Saturday with its mandates for the passengers, including the following:

All illnesses and conditions must be accurately disclosed and documented; the cruise line, at its expense, will provide all protective equipment to all responders; temperature readings are required for all disembarking crew and passengers; and the cruise line, at its expense, will arrange for private ambulance transportation, among other issues.

And, “no less than 24 hours in advance of the start of debarkation, the cruise line will present a security plan for review and approval… how passengers will debark orderly, safely and in compliance with current health advisories (i.e. social distancing). Failure to maintain good order may result in an immediate suspension of the debarkation until the situation is under control,” according to the guidelines.

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