Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship recommended to return to the U.S.

Local News

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, a reporter walks near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Life on board the luxury cruise ship, which has dozens of cases of a new virus, can include fear, excitement and soul-crushing boredom, according to interviews by The Associated Press with passengers and a stream of tweets and YouTube videos. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The United States government is recommending U.S. citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise ship to disembark and return to the U.S. for further monitoring.

That’s according to a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, which was sent to U.S. citizen passengers and crew members on the Diamond Princess.

“We are deeply grateful to the cruise line and government of Japan for working diligently to contain and control the spread of the illness.  However, to fulfill our government’s responsibilities to U.S. citizens under our rules and practices, as well as to reduce the burden on the Japanese healthcare system, the U.S. government recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring,” said the letter.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo says that agencies will provide a chartered aircraft to bring U.S. citizens directly from Japan to the United States. This will be handled by the Department of State, who will work with the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

The aircraft will arrive in Japan the evening of February 16, according to the U.S. Embassy letter.

“Buses will move you and your belongings from the ship to the aircraft. Passengers will be screened for symptoms and we are working with our Japanese partners to ensure that any symptomatic passengers receive the required care in Japan if they cannot board the flight,” said the letter.

The aircraft will then land in the United States at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Some passengers will then continue onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. 

More information about their final destination will be provided before boarding the plane, according to the U.S. Embassy.

Travelers who will return to America from high-risk areas will be required to undergo quarantine for 14 days when they arrive.

As for the U.S. passengers and crew members who choose not to return on this charter flight, the U.S. Embassy says that those people will be unable to return to the U.S. for a period of time.

It was not disclosed for how long that period will be.

The letter goes on to say that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the final determination on this matter.

Those who plan to travel on the charter flight will not be able to bring their pets.

To read the full letter, read on below:

February 15, 2020 

U.S. Embassy Tokyo 

MESSAGE TO U.S. CITIZEN DIAMOND PRINCESS PASSENGERS AND CREW 

The U.S. government’s top priority is the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens.  The U.S. Embassy has been in continual contact with you since the quarantine began in Japan, and U.S. health experts have been working closely with Carnival Cruise Lines and the government of Japan to assess the unique circumstances on the Diamond Princess. We recognize this has been a stressful experience and we remain dedicated to providing all the support we can and seeing you safely and expeditiously reunited with family and friends in the United States. 

This is a dynamic situation.  We are deeply grateful to the cruise line and government of Japan for working diligently to contain and control the spread of the illness.  However, to fulfill our government’s responsibilities to U.S. citizens under our rules and practices, as well as to reduce the burden on the Japanese healthcare system, the U.S. government recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring.  

To ensure a smooth return to the United States , the Department of State (DoS), working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other partner agencies, will provide a chartered aircraft to bring you directly from Japan to the United States. 

The aircraft will arrive in Japan the evening of February 16.  Buses will move you and your belongings from the ship to the aircraft. Passengers will be screened for symptoms and we are working with our Japanese partners to ensure that any symptomatic passengers receive the required care in Japan if they cannot board the flight.  The aircraft will land in the United States at Travis Air Force Base in California. Some passengers will then continue onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. We will provide information about your final destination prior to boarding the plane. 

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.  We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease.   We appreciate your understanding and cooperation and will provide all the assistance we can to support the quarantine process.   

Should you choose not to return on this charter flight, you will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make a final determination on this matter.    

We will continue to provide more information on travel plans for returning to the United States as it becomes available. In the meantime, please continue follow the recommendations for protecting your health and the health of others while onboard the ship. 

Again, we are deeply grateful to the government of Japan, as well as Japanese citizens and NGOs, for their extraordinary care and hospitality and their assistance facilitating the care and return of our citizens. 


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