TOKYO – Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky decided to trade one coronavirus quarantine for another.
The couple from Syracuse, New York, cut short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in a Japanese port to fly back to the United States. But leaving the ship meant they had to spend another two-week quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been spreading in Asia.
Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono tweeted Monday that Japanese troops helped transport 340 U.S. passengers on 14 buses from Yokohama port to Tokyo's Haneda airport. About 380 Americans were on the cruise ship. The U.S. State Department said later that two charter flights carrying cruise ship passengers had departed Tokyo and were on their way to the United States.
Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar flights of passengers.
Cheryl sent The Associated Press a video of her and her husband, Paul, boarding the plane with other Americans.
“Well, we're exhausted, but we're on the plane and that's a good feeling. Pretty miserable wearing these masks though, and everybody had to go to the bathroom on the bus,” she said.
The U.S. said it arranged the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus.
The State Department announced later that 14 of the evacuees received confirmed they had the virus but were allowed to board the flight because they did not have symptoms. They were being isolated separately from other passengers on the flight, the U.S. State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.